Beer Bread Two Ways: Jalapeno, Pipelchouma, and Cheddar, and Black Olive and Feta

Jalapeno Cheese Beer Bread!
Jalapeno Cheese Beer Bread!

I’ve been on a bread making kick lately.  See my previous post about jam!  Good jam needs good bread.  Also, the more pregnant I am, the more fruit I want in all the different ways I can get it.  I like it fresh, frozen and blended into a smoothie, baked into a croissant, and made into a bright, fresh jam slathered onto a piece of good bread.  So I’ve been making ciabatta every weekend for weeks now, and I love ciabatta because it’s versatile (post on easy ciabatta loves coming soon!), but I wanted to change it up a little last weekend.

I had jalapeño beer bread on my mind.   I had seen it flash by in a Twitter post and while I don’t think I even clicked the link, it stuck in my mind you know?  A few days later, I was searching recipes online.  I found this one from Spicy Southern Kitchen, and made it exactly as is the first time.  It took about 10 minutes to throw everything in my mixer, mix it, and get it in the oven.  45 minutes later, we were slicing cheesy bread and slathering it with butter, jam, cream cheese, and even just eating it by itself.  And it. Was.  Amazing.  Both spicy, cheesy, and bursting with yeasty flavor, it has both sweet and spicy elements, and is crispy on the outside, velvety soft on the inside.  I like it by itself, topped with just some melted butter, or topped with butter and jam, or cream cheese cand jam.  No!  Seriously!  Try it like that if you like savory, spicy, creamy, and sweet together.  It’s either delicious, or you can blame my pregnancy 🙂

But then I got to thinking.  This seems like such an easy, adaptable bread.  Why  not try something different with it?  Especially as this bread is so quick and easy.  You can whip it up for impromptu company, and you can wrap it up nicely and give it as a gift.  I’m planning on making several loaves for our upcoming baby shower, as thank you to people who bring us gifts.

Jalapeno Cheese Beer Bread is surprisingly light and tasty.
Jalapeno Cheese Beer Bread is surprisingly light and tasty.

I have in my pantry a lot of spices.  I have in fact a door of spices.  I assure you this is normal and I AM IN NO WAY STRANGE.  You probably also have a spice rack the size of your door bulging with spices, right? Right?  I can’t be the only one?

So as the recipe calls for a touch of red cayenne pepper, I decided to play with it a bit.  Like any good self respecting New Orleanian, I added a bit of Tony Chachere’s.  But I have this middle eastern spice collection from Trader Joe’s, and the Pipelchuma sounded (and smelled) like it would be a great fit.  It’s a blend of chiles and garlic, and is great added to a bit of olive oil for dipping bread into.  So I added it in.  And in my opinion, it really sets this bread off.  My recipe adaptation follows below.  You’ll notice I also cut down the butter.  I really don’t think it needs as much as the original recipe calls for – this bread is pretty moist, and has tons of flavor and crispy edges without it.

But then I was thinking.  I have friends coming over for dinner who don’t like jalapeños.  Could I make this bread with a variation?  I decided to try olives and feta.  Let me just say, I like this bread almost as much, though it seems to me a very different animal.  I think this bread gifts equally well, and would also be delicious served along with a soup, chili, or topped with a runny egg at breakfast.  In other words, I could eat this any time of day and be happy.

Jalapeno, Cheddar, and Pipelchouma Beer Bread
Adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen

3 cups of flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon of salt
1.5 to 2 Tablespoons of sugar
1 Teaspoon Pipelchouma (you can me this blend by adding in….)
1/4 Teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided in to 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup portions
1 12 oz bottle beer (For this bread I use Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale)
2-3 Tablespoons Butter, cut into pats
1-2 Jalapeños, depending on size, sliced

  1.  Preheat oven to 35o degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, Pipelchouma, and Tony Chachere’s.
  4. Add 3/4 cup of cheese and beer and mix until a wet dough has formed.  Be careful not to over mix, or you’ll end up building up too much gluten.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Top with sliced jalapeños.
  7. Place pats of butter all over the top of the batter.
  8. Top with remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes to 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the edges look crispy.

 

Black Olive and Feta Beer Bread

3 cups of flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 Teaspoon of salt
1.5 to 2 Tablespoons of sugar
1 Teaspoon Pipelchouma (you can me this blend by adding in….)
1/4 Teaspoon Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning
1 cup shredded crumbled feta cheese, divided in to 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup portions
1 12 oz bottle beer (For this bread I use Abita Amber – but feel free to experiment!)
2-3 Tablespoons Butter, cut into pats
1/2 cup sliced olives, plus a few whole olives for decorating the top

  1.  Preheat oven to 35o degrees.
  2. Grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  3. In a medium bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer, mix flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, Pipelchouma, and Tony Chachere’s.
  4. Add 3/4 cup of cheese, 1/2 cup of olives, and beer and mix until a wet dough has formed.  Be careful not to over mix, or you’ll end up building up too much gluten and macerating the olives.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  6. Top with sliced remaining sliced olives.
  7. Place pats of butter all over the top of the batter.
  8. Top with remaining 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes to 55 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the edges look crispy.

Jam is My Jam, aka, Put all the Summer Fruits in Jars Part 1: Easy Strawberry Lime Jam

Fresh strawberries picked by me!
Fresh strawberries picked by me!

I have always loved jam.  Actual jam.  Not jelly.  Jam.  Made with real fruit.  Spread on amazing bread.  Served with a scoop of ice cream.  I like it sweet, but I also like savory and sweet combinations, like Strawberry Jalapeño, or Mango Habaneros.  Despite this love affair, I have never really made jam, or canned anything on my own.  Because I am scared of canning.  But in the past year I have been dabbling more and more with the process (see my Raspberry and Turkish Honey Chia seed jam here, and my Meyer Lemon Marmalade here). And this year, we have been picking all the strawberries, and joined an all fruit CSA.  So we have fruit a go-go.  So I have decided to conquer my fear, and figure out this whole jam making thing.

Cooking down the strawberries, sugar, and lime.
Cooking down the strawberries, sugar, and lime.

And guess what?  Jam making is actually frighteningly easy, if you have the right tools, and you’re careful.  What follows is the first in a series of jam recipes I will be posting this summer.  I focus on making simple, low sugar, no pectin jams.  This one is pretty easy, and makes delicious, sweet, bright jam that is good on literally everything we have tried it on – ice cream, bread, sandwiches, and more.  Coming up soon, a blackberry basil jam, and a peach and cherry chile jam.

Strawberry Lime Jam

4 cups of fresh strawberries, quartered
1.5 cups of sugar
2 limes

Optional: 1 tablespoon of chia seeds

1. First, prepare your canning jars and canning tools.  You’ll need about 4 8 oz jars, or 1-2 pint size Mason Jars (these are inexpensive and can also be ordered through Amazon). I run my jars through the dishwasher on a sanitize cycle the night or morning before I make the jam, and then place the jars and rings on a cookie sheet and in a low, 200 degree oven until the jam is done and ready to be filled into the jars.
2. Add quartered strawberries to a large pot, along with the sugar.

Zesting the lime into the pot!
Zesting the lime into the pot!

3.  Zest one lime into the pot, and then halve both limes and juice them into the pot.
4.  Turn stove to a medium heat, and stir the sugar, strawberries, and lime.  They will make a lot of juice.
5.  Bring to a simmer, and allow to cook until the jam starts to thicken.  The longer you cook it, the darker and more roasted flavor you’ll get out of the berries.  If you wish for a brighter, tangier jam, just don’t cook it as long.  You can add some chia seeds to help thicken it once you turn the heat off, which adds a nutritional boost, but you can also let it cook down more and thicken.  It’s up to you, and I suggest you try it both ways!
6.  Prepare a large pot of boiling water, deep enough and wide enough to cover your jars, once filled.
7.  At this point, when the jam is approaching the thickness and flavor I want, I decide whether I am adding chia seeds or not.  If I am, I turn the heat off, and stir in my chia seeds.  If not, I proceed right to filling the jars.  If I do want to add the chia seeds, I stir them in quickly to avoid them clumping.  The chia seeds will help to thicken your jam.
8.  Use a canning funnel (with a wider mouth) to fill the hot jars, and then using a clean towel, seal the lids.

Getting ready to oh-so-carefully remove the jars from the water bath!
Getting ready to oh-so-carefully remove the jars from the water bath!

9.  Place jars in the boiling water, and boil for at least ten minutes.
10. Carefully remove from the hot water and set aside for 24 hours.
11.  Test your lids.  If any haven’t sealed properly, place that jar in the refrigerator or freezer, and eat within a month.

My Breakfast Obsession: Olibea – The Best Breakfast in Knoxville

Gorgeous Mis en place at Olibea in Old City
Gorgeous Mis en Place at Olibea in Old City

This article from Travel & Leisure recently came out touting Knoxville as one of the top ten places to visit in the US.  If you’d shown me this article even a year ago I would have probably laughed and said NO WAY is Knoxville worth it.  Spend your dollars and time in nearby cities like Nashville and Asheville.  Yet, the last year or so has brought significant changes to Knoxville, and I can see why its starting to get some national attention.  I appreciate this article, though I think it is very one sided (MEAT! and BEER!).

This grilled cheese! Made with Cruze Farm local cheese and topped with a duck egg.
This grilled cheese! Made with Cruze Farm local cheese and topped with a duck egg.
Knoxville's own Olibea early on a Saturday morning.
Knoxville’s own Olibea early on a Saturday morning.

Though, to be fair, meat and beer seems to be a real focus of the Knoxville area.  Which frequently leaves my husband and I feeling a bit left out.  We both came from larger cities where being a pescetarian was NO BIG THING.  Most every restaurant not only had options on their menu, they put as much thought into those veggie and alternative options as they do their carnivorous ones.  That just isn’t the case in Knoxville.  While Knox Mason is a superb restaurant, its not one I can really go to.  There is like A dish we could order, but we’d still have to get it tweaked.   Of course, Chef Matt Gallaher just opened Emilia, which I have not yet had the chance to try, but with a true Italian focus it already looks to be more promising for alternative diets.  You had me at mussels ya know?

Breakfast goodness at Olibea
Breakfast goodness at Olibea

Which brings me, with much preamble, to what I am writing about (and obsessed with) today, which is Olibea.  I’ve long wanted to write about Olibea, operated by Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro.  Well, since 2014, when it opened in the Old City section of downtown Knoxville.  It is my husband’s favorite breakfast in Knoxville.  It is my favorite breakfast in Knoxville.  It is even my MOM’S favorite breakfast in Knoxville, and that’s saying something.  My point, here, is that this restaurant offers creative, quality, delicious food to a variety of diners.  Chef Jeff says on the Olibea website that:

“I always felt that breakfast was a fresh start to my day. That no matter what happened yesterday today was going to be good cause I had breakfast. My idea for OliBea is simple: to bring you the best local/fresh ingredients as I can without killing your pocket. A place for you to come every day and have a chef-driven breakfast. Let Olibea be your fresh start, from my great grandma’s homemade cinnamon rolls to my house cured bacon.”

And it IS that place for my husband and I.  This may seem ironic when their Chef is frequently posting photos and offering classes on whole hog butchery.  I have no issue with this.  I think pork is delicious.  I just choose not to eat it.  But I DO choose to eat at Olibea as often as possible, because they care about the quality of ingredients, the presentation of food, and serving a well rounded clientele.

Their house pickled Mossy Creek mushrooms are divine.  They have meat alternatives on the menu, and even offer a veggie version of their sausage gravy, which is delightful.  They have amazing daily specials, such savory carnivorous delights as brisket tacos, and pulled pork enchiladas.  The staff are friendly, and while the place itself is small, the atmosphere is always convivial, and people frequently share larger tables.

Biscuits, potatoes, and vegetarian herb gravy with fresh Cruze Farm butter.
Biscuits, potatoes, and vegetarian herb gravy with fresh Cruze Farm butter.
Olibea omelet with spicy pickled mushrooms and potatoes on the side. YUM.
Olibea omelet special with spicy pickled mushrooms and cheddar cheese and potatoes on the side. YUM.

And let’s take a minute to talk about their biscuits.  Crumbly, large, and with a hint of saltiness they are delicious by themselves, slathered with locally made Cruze Farm butter, or dipped in syrup.  Their omelets are always vegetarian adaptable, and they’ve even spiced mine up for me by adding more chilies.  I suspect that they don’t get may requests for that here – I once heard someone complaining about the “spicy mushrooms” and was baffled they thought the same mushrooms I was eating were spicy.  But for this New Orleans transplant they were simply FLAVORFUL.  Oh my God flavorful.  I can’t resist this omelet now, and I order it almost every time we go.  That plus a biscuit and I’m set til dinner!

Lemon pancakes made with Cruze Far buttermilk. They look so deceptively simple. But THESE. ARE. GOOD.
Lemon pancakes made with Cruze Farm buttermilk. They look so deceptively simple. But THESE. ARE. GOOD.

I should also take a minute to mention their pancakes.  How boring, you’re thinking, and I get it.  Pancakes are pancakes are pancakes.  Except they are not.  These lemon pancakes are made with Cruze Farm buttermilk, and are light, airy, and exactly the right size.  Drizzled with butter and syrup, or topped with some of their house made jam, they are irresistible.  I kept telling my mother, no, these pancakes are special, and she didn’t believe me until she tasted mine.  Now, that’s her order at Olibea, with a side of eggs, because sweet and savory together RULE.

The veggie dish from the fall featuring a duck egg, beets, and other goodness on a baked acorn squash. Pretty, pretty good for you, and delicious!
The veggie dish from the fall featuring a duck egg, beets, and other goodness on a baked acorn squash. Pretty, pretty good for you, and delicious!

And they have at least one dedicated vegetarian entree on the menu.  Their Grits & Escabeche is the plate du jour at the moment, and it is rich, hearty, and delicious featuring oh-so-creamy Riverplains grits, Mossy Creek mushrooms, bright, charred dandelion greens, and topped with a runny, yolky, sunny duck egg. I adore this dish and just lament that I can’t order it more, but because I’m pregnant right now, I am not supposed to have the runny duck egg.  And this is one dish that just isn’t the same without it!

Long counters and bright colors make this a cheery, convivial spot for breakfast or lunch.
Long counters and bright colors make this a cheery, convivial spot for breakfast or lunch.

They also have delicious Stumptown coffee and daily fresh squeezed juices.  And the place inside is beautiful!  They don’t serve alcohol at the moment, which is probably good.  If they did, I might never leave.

Olibea in knoxville, Tennessee
Olibea in Knoxville, Tennessee

There are a couple of places in Knoxville I think stand out from the pack, and I’ll write more about them.  But for me, Olibea is above and beyond, and I wanted to give it a whole post of its own.  I appreciate it that much.  And I hope other Knoxville area restaurants will follow suit, with creative non-meat focused dishes as well as above board carnivorous options, quality ingredients, and deliciousness for more than just the barbecue crowd.