Tag Archives: bread

Cornbread with Bacon

Cornbread is one of my all time favorite side dishes because it’s so versatile and it’s easy to play around with different additions.  Since it’s Thanksgiving week I thought I’d post about this in advance of the big day in case anyone wants to have a little slice of Americana on their table, whether or not you actually celebrate Thanksgiving.

I’d never thought about adding bacon and a hint of maple syrup to cornbread before this recipe and it was great. I usually go the Barefoot Contessa route and add lots of cheese and jalapenos, which I do recommend if you are feeding a crowd, but this bread was a perfect sized loaf for a family dinner.

If you are in Australia you can find yellow cornmeal at specialty food stores (Fundies in Brisbane and Byron Bay) or you could try polenta if you don’t feel like hunting for it, just know that it will be a slightly different texture.

I didn’t add as much bacon as the recipe called for but wish I had in the end because it needed that extra moisture.  I would also consider using creamed corn instead of just canned corn for some extra moisture.

Cornbread with Bacon adapted from Food Lovers Lunch

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 12oz (350g) bacon, chopped
  • 2 scallions (spring onions), finely chopped
  • ½ cup (120g) canned corn kernels, drained
  • ½ tsp hot pepper flakes
  • 2 cups (350g) cornmeal
  • 2 1/3 cups (350g) all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ cups (375ml) buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp melted butter
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C) and grease a loaf pan.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast iron skillet and cook the bacon until crispy.
  3. Add the scallions and cook with the bacon for about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the corn kernels and pepper flakes, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornmeal with the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  6. Add the buttermilk, eggs, cooled bacon mixture, melted butter, maple syrup and pepper and mix until just combined.
  7. Spread batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes.
  8. Slice and serve warm with butter.
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US Southern Style Biscuits

I knew that I’d miss southern biscuits when I moved to Australia because their interpretation of the word ‘biscuit’ is a cookie.  The closest thing that I can find to a true southern biscuit here is a scone, but even they aren’t the same since they are sort of a cross between a dinner roll and a biscuit and have sugar in them.

I’ve resorted to making my own here so I thought I’d share the best recipe that I’ve found from Neal’s Deli in Carrboro, North Carolina – just down the street from my alma mater the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.  On a recent trip back to Chapel Hill my friends and I decided to try out the biscuit at Neal’s deli to see how it stacked up against it’s local rival, Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen – and boy it did.  The secret to their biscuits is using quality local butter and buttermilk from the Chapel Hill Creamery  down the road.

There are a couple of secrets that I have learned to making good biscuits:

  1. Use shortening and butter.  Using butter alone will not achieve the fluffy texture that you need.
  2. Freeze the dry mixture before incorporating the buttermilk – the colder the butter the fluffier the biscuit because cold butter will release more air than room temperature butter which creates pockets of air inside the biscuit.
  3. Folding the dough like a letter (as described in the recipe below) creates layers within the biscuit that are necessary to achieving the desired flakiness.

 Neal’s Deli Buttermilk Biscuits recipe adapted from Food & Wine 

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (or bi-carb soda in Australia)
  • 2 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter—3 tablespoons thinly sliced, 2 tablespoons melted
  • 1 cup buttermilk (can be made by mixing 1 tbsp white vinegar with 1 cup plain milk)

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 475F (250C).  Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.  In a large bowl, whisk the 2 cups of flour with the salt, baking powder and baking soda.  Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Using your fingers, rub in the sliced butter, leaving large flakes of coated butter.  Freeze the mixture for about 15 minutes.
Stir in the buttermilk until a raggy dough forms. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and press or roll into a 9 in. by 7 in. rectangle, about ¾ inch thick.  Fold the rectangle in thirds like a letter, then fold the rectangle in half to make a little package.  Press or roll out the dough to a 9-by-7 inch rectangle again.  

Repeat the folding process once more, then roll the dough out one more time to a 9-by-7-inch rectangle.  Using a 3 ½ inch round cutter, stamp out 4 biscuits.  Pat the scraps together and stamp out 2 more biscuits.


Arrange the biscuits on a large baking sheet and brush the tops with the melted butter.  Bake for about 14 minutes, shifting the baking sheet halfway through, until the tops and bottoms are golden and the biscuits are cooked through.

Hot Cross Bun French Toast & Easter in Australia

Obviously it’s been a while since Easter but this was such a hit that I thought I’d share it anyway just in case there are any hot cross bun fanatics out there that are already gearing up for next Easter!

We spent Easter this year on Coochiemudlo Island in Queensland, Australia, which is about a 45 minute drive plus a ferry ride from Brisbane.  Since this was my first Easter in Australia I decided to wholeheartedly embrace the Aussie traditions of hot cross buns and chocolate bilbies.

Cadbury Chocolate Bilby - the Aussie take on the Easter Bunny

I ended up averaging about a hot cross bun a day for the month leading up to Easter because I loved them so much but by the time I got to Easter Sunday I was starting to toy around with the idea of a hot cross bun bread pudding or breakfast sandwich….then I came across the hot cross bun french toast idea in the Coles supermarket monthly magazine and decided that it was going to be the easiest way to get a little crazy with my hot buns.

Hot Cross Bun French Toast adapted from Coles Supermarket Autumn 2011 Magazine

Ingredients

  • 3 eggs
  • 250 ml milk
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 pack of day old hot cross buns (with or without fruit, or choc chip!)
  • 50 g butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup, to serve

Preparation

Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar in a bowl until incorporated.

Cut hot cross buns horizontally into 3 segments.  Soak each of the slices in the egg mixture for a minute or two, until saturated.

Melt butter in the frying pan and cook bun slices over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and the egg is cooked.

Repeat until all buns are cooked.

Serve drizzled with maple syrup.

Coconut Lime Banana Bread

I’ve made this banana bread three times in the last three weeks so it’s definitely time to share the recipe.

It’s a basically banana bread with a tropical twist because it has a hefty amount of lime juice, rum! (optional) and some coconut.  The obsession with this bread all started when we bought too many bananas after cyclone Yasi hit Queensland because we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to buy them for a while, at least not at $3/kilo.  I ended up having a few left over bananas at the end of the week that were too brown to eat but just perfect for banana bread.  My boyfriend’s cousin bakes all the time and said that this recipe had her stamp of approval so we tried it and loved it.  I’ve been buying extra bananas every week now hoping that no one will eat them and I’ll have another excuse to make the bread…and so far so good because it’s happened for the past 3 weeks!

Coconut Lime Banana Bread

Recipe Adapted from Cake Bible

Ingredients

Bread:

  • 8 Tbs (120g) softened butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (2 normal sized)
  • 3 Tbs buttermilk (I make my own with 1/3 cup milk + 1/3 Tbs white vinegar)
  • 1 Tbs fresh lime juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • ½ cup shaved coconut

Glaze:

  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs rum (optional)
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs fresh lime juice

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).  Lightly grease a loaf pan and line the base with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy with an electric mixer.  Stir in the eggs, mashed banana, buttermilk and lime juice and combine.  Sift the salt, ginger and flour into a mixing bowl with the bicarbonate of soda.  Stir into the batter and combine until smooth.  Stir in the coconut. Spoon into prepared pan and sprinkle with a little more coconut.  Bake for 55 minutes.  Allow cake to stand for 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack.

Meanwhile, heat all the glaze ingredients in a saucepan.  Stir for about 5 minutes to form a smooth syrup.

Coat the top and sides of the cake with the glaze.  Serve while warm or at room temperature.

Latvian Piragas for Latvian Independence Day

My neighbor and fellow Couchsurfer wanted to have a potluck last Thursday and since November 18th is Latvian Independence Day (from Russia in 1918)  he decided to throw a Latvian Independence Day potluck! I admit that I had to first look up where Latvia is on a map before scouting for which recipe I would make.  For those of you who don’t know, it’s here:

I decided to make piragas as my dish since they were one of the first hits that came up on google when I typed in “Latvian Recipes” and they are pocket food (i.e., stuffed food such as ravioli, pierogies, samosas – I explained my love for pocket food in an earlier post).

Here’s the recipe:

Latvian Pirags recipe adapted from grouprecipes.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 box Pillsbury hot roll mix
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Preparation:

1. Saute the onion in 1 Tbsp of oil.  Add the garlic after the onion has softened.

2. Add the ground beef and season with pepper and dill.  Saute until fully cooked.

3. Drain excess fat & allow to cool.  I refrigerated mine over night to allow the flavor to absorb.

4. Preheat the oven to 325 F.

5. Make the yeast rolls according to the instructions on the pillsbury box.

6.  After the yeast rolls have risen to double in size take each roll and place a tablespoon of the beef mixture in the center.  Stretch and fold the dough over the top of the meat and pinch to seal.  I also used a fork the press the dough together.

7.  Wash all the piragas with egg wash and bake for 10-12 minutes.

8.  After removing them from the oven brush the tops with melted butter.

Here are some shots from the potluck:

The spread

Delicious Latvian meatball soup

Something similar to whole wheat pierogies

FFWD: Gougeres

I’m pretty excited to be a member of the cooking blog group French Fridays with Dorie (FFWD).  For a basic rundown of the project – we are cooking our way through Dorie Greenspan’s new cookbook Around My French Table – similar to the Julie & Julia project except with 700 food bloggers!  We follow a schedule of recipes to make and post each Friday.  I can’t promise that I’ll always be able to keep up but I’m going to try my best.

This first recipe on this is the first in the book, gourgeres.  I had no idea what these little morsels of goodness were until I read the recipe and decided that these were going to be darn good.  What could possibly be bad about balls of cheesy bread?  The closest thing I have had to gougeres are Brazilian cheese breads (Pão de Queijo), which are similar to crack.  Those sneaky Brazilians are smart in that they put these little crack balls on your table before bringing out the meat at their steakhouses because they know that you’ll fill up on them before even getting to see the meat!  Genius, but unfair.  Fortunately, when I made these I had nothing to make me feel guilty about eating too many so I just let the addiction take over.

What’s even better about these is that you can freeze the balls of dough and bake them on demand!

I followed Dorie’s recipe exactly as written since I was in unfamiliar territory and they turned out perfectly.  She’s right – these are much better when served warm and with a glass of champagne!