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.

Easy, Delicious, and Versatile Strawberry Lime Galette with a Basil Butter Shortcrust (which is just pie crust, said fancier)

imageI am far from a pastry chef.  But I like to bake, and I like to eat, and when I saw this crust on Infinite Belly I had to try it.  And isn’t that blog GORGEOUS by the way?  Doesn’t it just make you want to drop everything, move to France, and go to culinary school?

But we are talking pie crust today, or shortcrust as it is more widely known.  Here in the US we typically say pie crus tor pie dough.  In the UK and other English speaking locales, they call it shortcrust.  In France, its called pate brisee.  Want to know more about these differences, and some technical aspects of pie crust?  Check this out on For Love of the Table.  I can’t be the only food geek here who is interested in this kind of thing right?  Are those crickets?

My husband's feet after our last strawberry picking excursion.
My husband’s feet after our last strawberry picking excursion.

I saw the amazing zucchini galette on Infinite Belly, but as I have been (almost literally) swimming in strawberries lately, I thought about a savory sweet combination, and one of course without duck fat, because we are pescetarian.  I adore berries and basil together, so it was a natural thought.  I made this Strawberry Lime Galette with a Basil Butter shortcrust and, well, let’s just say we might’ve eaten the entire thing in two days.  Maybe.  Probably.  But you don’t have proof!

Basil Butter Crust assembled and ready for chilling in the refrigerator.
Basil Butter Crust assembled and ready for chilling in the refrigerator.

Its actually easier than anyone thinks to make pie crust.  Or maybe its just easier than I thought to make pie crust?  I blogged about this super quick and easy one a while back.  But this basil butter crust is truly exceptional, and it impresses people, so is a good choice for serving at a brunch or dinner party.  It can go both savory and sweet (check back next week for my Early Summer Vegetable with a Basil Parmesan Crust galette), and can be made ahead.  What’s not to love?

Basil Butter Shortcrust, or Pie Crust
(adapted from Infinite Belly)

2-3 Tablespoons copped fresh basil
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup chilled unsalted butter, plus two tablespoons, cut into pats
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
An additional egg, beaten, to brush on just prior to baking

1. Prepare your basil, and slice your cold butter into pats.
2. Whisk salt, basil, and flour together.
3. Add butter in and using a pastry cutter mix it together until it forms a sablage, or looks really, really crumbly and there isn’t much flour left that hasn’t been incorporated into the crumbles.
4. Form a well in the sablage by digging your fist down in to the center, and then add in the egg and milk.
5.  Mix the egg and milk in with the sablage until a dough forms.
6. Form the dough into a ball, and then pat the ball down so it is more of a disc.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, and up to a day.  When you bring it out of the refrigerator, give it a few minutes to soften so that you can roll it out, but don’t let it take too long, or come to room temperature, or the butter fat will start to melt.
7.  Place the dough on a well floured surface and/or parchment paper.  Roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness, or your desired thickness for a pie or galette.
7.  Either line a pie pan with it for a traditional pie or quiche, or place on parchment paper in the center of a baking sheet and fill with your desired toppings.  For the strawberry lime filling, see below.  Fold the sides up to form the galette.
8. Brush the sides of the crust with the beaten egg/egg wash, so that the crust bakes bright and golden.
9. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is done and the pie crust is golden brown.

Strawberry Lime Galette or Pie Filling

2 cups of strawberries
1 Lime (a lemon can also be used)
1/4 cup sugar (optional)

Thickly slice strawberries into a bowl.  Zest half a lime on top, then add the juice of half the lime.  Add up to 1/4 cup of sugar.  Chill strawberry lime mixture for approximately an hour (while your crust is also chilling), and fill in the center once your crust is rolled out.

 

Meyer Lemon Marmalade: An Easy, Fun Food Gift Idea

Gorgeous Meyer Lemon Marmalade in a coupe glass from Food and Wine Magazine. What a fabulous idea for serving it at your next brunch table!

So while scrolling the internet in search of fun food gifts for the holiday season, I came across this recipe by Emily Kaiser from Food and Wine Magazine for Meyer Lemon Marmalade, which sounded perfect to me.  It’s something that isn’t too sweet, yet is made with only the lemons, sugar, and water, so is far and away one of the easier jams or marmalades to prepare.  It can be used during the holidays, or even saved for a special occasion.  Plus, I love jams and marmalades, in their cute little jars!

My husband and I at the start of the ball for annual Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball.
My husband and I at the start of the ball for annual Hands On Literary Festival and Masquerade Ball.

You’re probably like, why didn’t you tell us about this BEFORE the holidays?  Mostly because I was too busy making it, wrapping gifts, and preparing for a literary festival and masquerade ball that I host over New Year’s in New Orleans.  I actually thought I would skip posting about this altogether, until the other day, when I gifted someone with a spare jar as a birthday gift, and they were ecstatic.  I thought, really, this is a gift that would be good to have on hand all the time, and I think it could be tasty in any season.  I have used it to top a melty brie, spread on pancakes, crepes (put the marmalade inside, and top the crepes with this blueberry chia jam, toasted almond slivers, and Grand Marnier whipped cream for a delicious brunch), and toast.  The next time I make it, I am planning on doing a Satsuma and Meyer Lemon blend.

Meyer lemon strips getting ready to be blanched.
Meyer lemon strips getting ready to be blanched.

It does take a bit of time to prepare.  About 3 hours total, and in the future, I will always be doubling this recipe.  It makes about five standard jelly jars full, but believe me, everyone wants some, so five jars are gone lightning fast.  An since it takes about 3 hours to make (the recipe online indicates two, so I’m either slow, or they are optimistic), a double batch seems prudent in terms of time management.  After my first batch, I rapidly had to make a second because every jar was spoken for, or had topped the aforementioned brie, filled crepes, or in some other fashion made it’s way into our stomachs.  In fact, now that I mention it, I may just triple the batch next time, because that may be the best way to ensure I have some on hand for those need-a-gift and -can’t-bear-to-shop times.  More is ALWAYS better, right?

 

 

 

You can find this recipe for Meyer Lemon Marmalade by Emily Kaiser online here at Food and Wine Magazine.  Here are a few notes/tips I ahve for making it:

  • Make the strips even thinner than you think – they should be thin strips of candied lemon peel by the end.
  • It will seem like it is never going to set, then suddenly, it does.  It actually took more like 35 minutes or so for mine to set, but you’ll know the right consistency when you see it.  Is that helpful at all, lol?
  • At the “spoon it into jars phase” the mixture will be hot and sticky.  Have several towels on hand, and if you burn yourself like I did, remember, burns and cuts are supposed to be badges of honor in the kitchen 😉
  • Next time I make it, like I said, I am going to use a dozen and a half meyer lemons, and a dozen and a half satsumas. Risky? I’ll let you know how it turns out.
  • Always make sure you have a jar just for you to enjoy.  Don’t give it away until you’ve tried it yourself! Because why should your friends and family have all that delicious to themselves?