Comté Cheese


     Comté Cheese: perhaps a familiar, household name for some of you, perhaps merely the title of an exotic dairy varietal for others.

     Whatever the case, Comté cheese deserves to be known and enjoyed. John and I recently had the chance to visit the Comté region of France to enjoy a guided tour of their cheese production process, and it was exhilarating. Our main guide, Jean-Louis, took a small group of us all around the region, introducing us to the culture and techniques of Comté cheese.

     Since I’ve started this blog I have had incredible opportunities to learn the history, story, and culture of some of my favorite companies. And I must admit that though I left on this trip with only a general knowledge of Comté, I now have a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for everyone that has made Comté what it is today.

     First of all, Comté’s philosophy of work and craftsmanship is astounding, and it puts into practice principles that anyone from any field of work could respect. It all begins with a heart of intentionality and sincere passion. One of the farmers we met, an eccentric, boisterous individual nicknamed Taz, put it perfectly: “All of us at Comté are always asking ourselves, ‘why do we wake up in the morning? Why do we do what we do?’” Such questions accurately express what’s at the heart of Comté’s commitment to excellence, to quality, and to community and legacy. They wake up in the morning because they’re coming together with families and with whole towns and regions continuing a centuries-old tradition of crafting amazing, sustaining cheese. They’re honoring and cultivating their ecosystems, they're stewarding their livestock and landscape, they're providing for families and communities, and what they make is simply a piece of art (especially delicious art!).

     Here are some examples of what this philosophy look like in action. Comté cheese insists upon the importance of cultivating the natural yield of the landscape and ecosystem, and they refer to this as “terroir.” Terroir is the catch-all term for a region’s natural environment and habitat in combination with specific practices that draw out regional characteristics to impart a unique quality to the final product. And so terroir is just as rightly applied to wine or chocolate or coffee or scotch as it is to cheese. But many companies try to use external chemicals, ingredients, additives, and extreme practices to squeeze and manipulate the yields of many different regions and habitats into a single taste-profile for consistency and marketability. Comté cheese totally eschews this notion, avoiding all additives and any unnatural ingredient or processes. They instead respect the land and the yield and proceed to produce the best possible cheese that most clearly reflects the source from which it came.

     Accordingly, we saw these convictions turn up in everyday practices, whether we were visiting the farms, the cheese-making facilities, or the maturing cellars. On the farms, Comté takes great care to ensure that the hay in their region is the highest quality, and that the flowers and vegetation that come along with it are protected and included. They only use two types of cows whose milk is amazing for making cheese–the Montbeliard and French Simmental. They refuse to use any machines for milking the cows, they only milk them by hand, and they only milk them twice a day. This ensures that their cows remain comfortable, healthy, and happy.

     At the cheese-making facilities, Comté refuses to use any additives or added chemicals in the process of turning the milk into cheese. They keep very clean conditions, yet also sustain a controlled environment conducive to the production of natural bacteria that are vital to the cheese-making process. They call their facilities “Fruitières” because this is where the reap the “fruit of their labor”—it’s all linked to the mindset of honoring a legacy of working hard and providing for those around you. Pretty inspiring if you ask me. 

     A maturing cellar for Comté cheese is called an “affineur” and they meticulously age their wheels in a precisely conditioned environment. The cellars are essentially giant refrigerators, some housing tens of thousands of wheels at the perfect temperature and level of humidity. Comté ages their wheels exclusively on spruce boards for a minimum of 4 months but for no real maximum. While exploring one cellar, we had the chance to taste a cheese aged for over 3 years—we’ll likely never taste a better or older cheese for the rest of our lives. 

     All of this leads to an astounding creation. Each wheel of Comté is so responsibly made to reflect the terroir of its French domain that it’s actually impossible to make the same wheel twice. Every wheel is a distinct, unique, and unrepeatable expression of Comté cheese. Now what I said might sound strange—how could you run a business without any expected consistency from your product? How could you even make this marketable? Well first, every wheel always features the signature Comté characteristics: they all play with the flavors of onions, garlic, nuts, butter, salt, and potato. It’s just that each of these can come in dozens of variations. They can lean more fruity, vegetative, lactic, spicy, roasted, and more—creating hundreds of possible combinations. Second, when someone buys a piece of Comté cheese, it’s less an act of placing their money in a product and more an act of placing their trust in a set of creators. Whatever Comté comes up with, you can be confident that it will be absolutely excellent. 

     So, clearly, there’s a lot that goes into making Comté cheese! But I share this because it shows how, at every stage, Comté applies its deepest convictions about what makes their work meaningful. Questions like “why do we wake up in the morning” are obviously high-flown, and their answers abstract. But Comté is special because they apply their philosophical perspectives every single moment of every day. Think about how truly impressive that is. How many of us can claim the same about our lives? Do we really know—deep down—why we wake up in the morning? And even if we have an answer, how successfully do we apply it to our lives? Do our convictions about why our lives are meaningful really find concrete expressions in our daily tasks? That’s why I find Comté so inspiring. It’s difficult for us as separate individuals just to figure out how to live our lives like this—but Comté has figured out how to do this with thousands of people together all at once. That’s what makes Comté about so much more than cheese, and it’s what made our trip to their beautiful region so truly special. 

     Thank you to the Comté Cheese association for sending  John and I on this magical trip! John and I were not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. 

Lemon & Red Currant Yogurt Loaf


I lived in Southern California for 20+ years, and I can honestly say that I can't remember ever seeing red currants at any of my local markets. Now that I think about it, this fact doesn't come as a huge shock considering where I grew up. Anyway, once I moved to WA, come summer, currants are out and about at many of my favorite markets. I know this won't be the case for everyone, but if you're interested in trying these berries keep your eyes peeled, or simply ask your produce person and hopefully you'll be able to snag a least one small container—I promise they are worth it.

Now if you live in the states and you hear someone say the word "currants," you might immediately think of Zante currants, those widely available little dried grapes. But these currants are a totally different thing. These berries are not a grape at all, instead they are a flowering shrub which you can find in various hues like black, red, or white (translucent). These tiny berries are quite tart on their own, which I think makes them quite versatile, so they can easily be folded into a cake, turned into a jam, or even added to a savory dish.

 

Since my experience with currants is super limited I wanted to use them in a familiar baked treat, like this lemon loaf. I am a huge fan of sweets, but I prefer my treats to be not overly sweet. I have been eyeing this lemon loaf from HowSweetEats for a while and I thought the addition of some red currants would add a little contrasting tartness to such an already saccharine treat. Plus, I am a sucker for a good lemon loaf, so making this was a no brainer.

This lemon loaf is incredibly moist and fragrant. The lemon zest and currants worked really well together. I only added a cup of red currants, but I actually wish I would have added just a bit more. I am not sure how much longer currants will be available in my neck of the woods, but I am hoping to grab just a few more for an upcoming recipe so stay tuned for more ideas on how to use currants.


Lemon & Red Currant Yogurt Loaf

Barely adapted from HowSweetEats

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain yogurt

3/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling

3 large eggs

zest of two lemons

2 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup red currants

Equipment: 1 9x5'' loaf pan, parchment paper, whisk, microplane zester, cooling rack


Method

Heat the oven to 350°F. Light grease the loaf pan and line with a piece of parchment paper. Lay the piece of parchment across the width of the pan, letting a bit hang over.

In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a large bowl, add the sugar and the lemon zest. Rub the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingers until fragrant. Add the yogurt and whisk until combined. Then whisk in the egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and gently mix until combined. Add the oil to the bowl, and use a spatula to fold into the batter. Once the oil is just incorporated, add the red currants and fold into the batter just 2-3 times. 

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with 1-2 tbs of sugar. Place the pan into the oven and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set and a toothpick come out clean when inserted in to the middle of the loaf.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 10-15 minutes, then remove from the pan using the excess parchment flaps and set on a cooling rack to cool. Garnish with some extra currants and serve once cooled.  

RockFish Tacos & mango pico de gallo


Summer in Seattle is such a magical time, and after having returned home from Europe I am more than ready to start cooking up some of my favorite summertime dishes. And one of these is fish tacos—which have this unique ability to instantaneously create a relaxing summer vibe. There’s something about warm corn tortillas, coastal sea fair, and bursts of citrus that puts you in a laid back mood.

While some fish taco recipes call for tilapia or salmon, I like to use rockfish or mahi mahi for their mild sweet flavor and flaky texture. This makes them great for tacos, since they’ll impart a wonderful flavor while allowing your seasoning to shine through and your toppings to contribute fresh tastes. I wanted to saturate the fish in a marinade to let all the flavors soak in—oil, lime, spices, and chili powder really transform this fish into something delicious. I also chose to create mango salsa for a layer of juicy sweetness and added some thinly-sliced cabbage for a crunchy, textured finish.

I typically lean more towards red wine throughout the year, but I must say that a glass of this pinot gris on a hot day is beyond refreshing. Plus, the bright, pleasant flavors of these fish tacos really find a comfortable companion in a glass of La Crema’s 2016 Pinot Gris. This wine complements the sweetness of this dish with hints of pear and nectarine, but also features a welcomed citrusy bite finishing with a lemony acidity.

Be sure to head to La Crema's blog to get the recipe for these tacos and refreshing mango pico de gallo.

Thank you so much for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post, and as always, all opinions are my own.

Blackberry-ginger morning smoothie


Hello and happy Monday! If you follow me on instagram you likely already know that John and I have just returned from our trip abroad. Our time in Europe was amazing—the people, the food, the adventure of it all was truly magical. 

I am in the process of putting together a travel post or two that I hope to post soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share this beautiful summer smoothie that I have been sipping on since I've been back. As much as I loved indulging in all things butter-based in Europe, I must say it feels really good to be back in my kitchen where I can whip up a healthy and easy meal or snack. This smoothie is pretty simple, but it tastes so good since peaches and blackberries are in season now. 

Now I'm off to make one of these right now—I just can't stop drinking it! Hope you have a lovely week.

xxx


Blackberry-Ginger Morning Smoothie

Yeilds 2 cups 

1 cup coconut milk or water

8 large blackberries

1/2 cup frozen peaches

1 thin slice of ginger, about the size of a quarter

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 tsp bee pollen, more to garnish

1 tsp maca powder

small handful of ice

coconut chips, to garnish

honey or agave to sweeten, if needed


Method

Place all of the ingredients into a high-speed blender in the order listed and blend until smooth and creamy. If you prefer a thinner smoothie simply add a little extra liquid until desired texture is obtained.

Enjoy!!

Cardamom Poached Apricots


Since the arrival summer I have found that not only have my surroundings change (flowers and new produce everywhere) but the way I approach food has as well. I believe that warm summer days call for meals and treats that take little to no effort, but that nevertheless still satisfy. Stone fruits, tomatoes, watermelons, berries—this season yields much of my very favorite fruits and vegetables. In keeping things simple, I am always on the lookout for new ways to enjoy seasonal produce, like these gorgeous apricots I picked up last week. When I bought them John and I only had a few days before our trip to Europe (which we are currently on) and I wanted to put these apricots to good use before we left.

Poaching these apricots seemed to be the best way for me to use all of this beautiful fruit without having to destroy my kitchen. Also, having these poached apricots on hand proved to be the perfect thing because they ended up being my last meal before we left for the airport: a bowl of cottage cheese topped with these delicious apricots. Simple, yet delicious!

The syrup for these apricots isn't overly sweet, which is something I prefer. I really like how a little tartness comes through from the skin of the apricots, although if you want something a little sweeter, you could always use more sugar. Spoon these yummy apricots over yogurt, ice cream, or eat them on their own—there's really is no wrong way to eat these.


John and I are currently traveling through Europe right now, so be sure to check out my Instagram stories to take a peek of the places we visit.


Cardamom Poached Apricots

adapted from Epicurious

1/2 vanilla bean                                                                                                                   1 1/4 cups water                                                                                                             3/4 cup dark brown sugar                                                                                                   2 (4- by 1-inch) fresh lemon strips                                                                                       1/8 teaspoon salt 6 cardamom pods, smashed                                                                  pinch kosher salt                                                                                                                 1 pound firm-ripe fresh apricots, washed, halved lengthwise and pitted 

Equipment: Large saucepan, knife, sealable jar for storage


Method

Carefully, split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out its seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the saucepan, along with the water, sugar, lemon strips, cardamom pods, and salt. Set the saucepan over high heat and bring everything to a boil, uncovered, and let boil for 1 minute.

Add apricots to the saucepan, then adjust the heat so the liquid is at a bare simmer. Poach the apricots, turning over once, until fruit they are tender but still holds its shape and skins are still intact. This can take anywhere from 3-6 minutes, so keep a close eye and test with a knife once you think they are ready.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the apricots to a jar, or large bowl. Bring the syrup to a heavy simmer and let the syrup reduce for an additional 6-7 minutes. Strain the syrup and pour into the jar, or bowl holding the apricots. If you like you can add the vanilla bean pod to the jar, or bowl, but you can also dicard it at this point.

 Let the apricots and cool to room temperature before using. Store in the fridge in a sealable jar for up to about 5 days or so. 

    Steak Sandwich With Basil Mayo


    One of the reasons I’m so thankful to live in Seattle is not only because of its generally great cuisine, but specifically because of it’s fantastic selection of sandwich shops. Whether you want Southern BBQ pulled pork, a Mexican Torta, a Vietnamese Banh Mi, or anything else you can imagine, Seattle has restaurants, delis, and food trucks serving the best of the best. And in a city so full of great sandwiches, I thought why not become part of the fun?

    Pretty soon I was inspired, and I set out to explore some unfamiliar territory—I decided to craft a delicious steak sandwich. I thought this would be fun since steak isn’t what I usually gravitate towards unless it’s in a burrito or a fine cut at a similarly fine dinner.

    After a few attempts a truly tasty meal came together: thin-sliced, high-quality top sirloin, an artisan loaf, the perfect amount of cheese, a fennel and cabbage slaw, a slathering of herbal, creamy basil mayo, a few jalapeños, and pickled onions for a biting vinegar finish.

    Having nailed my sandwich, I wanted to find something nice to drink alongside it. I turned to La Crema’s ever-impressive collection and found their Monterey Pinot Noir to be a perfect fit. It begins with a toasty mixture of nutmeg and pepper, moving into tart fruits and pleasantly bitter citrus, with a refreshing splash of vanilla and a finish blending cocoa with coffee. It’s utterly delightful on its own and complements this sandwich in a dynamic and surprising way. Be sure to head over to La Crema's blog to get the full recipe for this tasty sandwhich.


    Thank you SO much for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post, and as always, all opinions are my won.


    Quick Pickled Onions

    adapted from the kitchn

    1 large, sealable jar

    3 cups water, boiling water

    1 red onion, thinly sliced in 1/4 inch thick rings

    1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

    1 tbs granulated sugar

    1 bay leaf

    2 sprigs fresh thyme

    2 tsp kosher salt

    1 clove garlic, cut in half


    Method

    Add the vinegar, sugar, and salt into the jar that will hold the onions, and stir everything together until dissolved.

    Par-blanch the onion by placing the onion slices in a fine mesh sieve, then slowly pour the boiling water over them. Let the onions drain, then add to the jar. Add the bay leaf, thyme sprigs, and garlic clove, and stir everything together to help distribute the flavorings.

    Let the onions sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes, but a few hours is usually best. Store the jar in the refrigerator. These pickled onions are best used within a week, but can last a little longer.

    Spring Pea & Ramp Soup


    Today, I would like to introduce you to a vegetable you’ve likely never heard of before: the rare but wonderful ramp. You wouldn’t believe how much trouble I had tracking down some of these beauties this past week. I kept calling produce department after produce department, and, bless their hearts, hardly anyone I spoke with could even make out what I was asking for! Talk about rare.

    Ramps are essentially like a cross between an onion and a leek–their bite and sting lends a unique flavor matched only by their scarcity. Many describe them as a combination of the sweetness of leeks with the spice of garlic, and I’d have to agree. Part of what makes them so special is that they're the quintessential spring vegetable—first to arrive and first to go. And in looking for a meal in which to use these, I decided to make a special version of a classic pea soup.

    For this pea soup, I brought together the pungent, surprising flavor of the ramps with peas and fresh herbs to complement the soup’s mild creamy sweetness. I have to thank Laura Wright for her simple asparagus soup for being the inspiration on how to prepare these ramps in my recipe.

    Le Creuset was kind enough to send me one of their most beautiful pieces for this recipe–their fleur cocotte. This beautifully-cast, elegant vessel features delicate features and lovely embossed flowers. John and I have been enjoying an unexpected spotty streak of sun in Seattle for the past few weeks of which we can’t get enough, so using this floral-designed, clean, matte-white cocotte seemed so appropriate! Le Creuset is also giving me another one of these cocottes to give away to you. Head over to my Instagram to enter for a chance to win!

    Thank you for supporting the brands the support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post and all opinions are my own.


    Spring Pea and Ramp Soup

     

    Yields 5 cups

    1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter

    8 oz ramps cleaned, and white bulbs + greens divided

    1 lb 3 ½ cups peas

    3 cups stock, plus a little extra if needed

    ¼ cup loosely packed parsley

    1/3 loosely packed mint

    2 tsp Lemon juice, or more to taste

    salt and pepper to taste

    Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, fresh cracked pepper, and wild onion blooms, if available. Fresh ricotta cheese, or creme fraciche are other garnishes that work well with this soup.


    Method

    Begin by preparing the ramps. Gather all of the bulbs, roughly chop, and set aside. Roughly chop the green tops and set aside as well.

    In a large pot melt 1 ½ tbs of unsalted butter over medium heat. Once hot, add the chopped ramp bulbs and cook until tender and lightly browned—about five minutes or so. Add the chopped greens to the pot, and season everything with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook the the greens until wilted, about a minute or so.

    Add the chicken stock to the pot and bring everything up to a boil. Once boiling, add the peas and fresh herbs and adjust the heat so that everything comes to a simmer. If using fresh peas, allow them to simmer for about 6 minutes, and only simmer for 2 minutes if using frozen peas.

    Depending on the size of your blender, carefully blend the soup all at once, or in batches until smooth. Return the soup back to the pot and mix in the lemon juice. If a thinner soup is preferred add a little extra chicken stock. Taste the soup and add any additional salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. Serve the soup hot with a drizzle of oil and with a garnish or fresh onion blossoms, ricotta cheese, or creme fraiche and enjoy!

    Fava Beans, Ricotta & Pancetta On Toast +A GIVEAWAY!!!


    A couple years ago I received an email from an acquisitions editor asking if I’d like to write a book on toast. At the time I didn’t exactly know how I’d pull it off, but over the course of a few weeks I played with the idea of reimagining how we view and consume toast. I dove headlong into developing one hundred seasonal recipes, which really tested the extent of my creative output, but the result was so satisfying. 

    So when Wolf Gourmet wanted to send one of their new four-slice toasters my way, I thought of how nostalgic it would be to make a meal around a slice of toast again. I wanted something spring appropriate, so I started with a layer of homemade ricotta, then piled on freshly blanched fava beans, then topped it with crispy pancetta and a healthy amount of pecorino cheese. I haven’t really cooked with fava beans before, so I owe the inspiration for this dish to Joshua McFadden’s new cookbook, Six Seasons. In his book he shares a recipe for fava beans on toast, so I took that idea and put my own spin on it. 

    When writing the introductory sections of my book, I realized that we often don’t focus on the various methods available for toasting bread. You can hold it over an open flame, bake it in the oven, or of course just drop it into your ordinary countertop toaster. However, the Wolf Gourmet four-slice toaster is no ordinary appliance. You can control each pair of slots independently, so you can make toast for yourself with waffles on the side, or a set of bagels and english muffins at the same time. It also features extra-wide slots with self-centering bread guides that allow for both the thickest and thinnest slices (which is a BIG deal for me since I love thick slices of toast). Suffice to say, the toaster worked perfectly for this recipe—it’s hard to imagine a better asset for a meal like this. 

    I've really loved using this toaster SO much that Wolf Gourmet is letting me give away one of these beautiful machines to a lucky one of you! Simply follow the instructions below and good luck! Giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on Sunday, May 7th at 12:00 PST. Be sure to head over to my instagram to enter.


    Wolf Gourmet was kind enough to give me a toaster in exchange for my honest review. As always, all opinions are my own. Good luck!!


    Fava Beans, Ricotta & Pancetta on Toast

    Slightly adapted from Six Seasons

    Serves 2

    1 1/4 lbs Fresh Fava Beans in their pods

    1/3 cup fresh ricotta- or make it at home

    1/4 cup diced cooked pancetta

    1 small lemon

    pecorino cheese, for garnish

    fresh cracked pepper, to taste

    unsalted butter, or neutral oil

    two 1/2-inch slices of country bread


    Method

    Shell the fava beans and set aside. Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a rolling boil. Add the fava beans and quickly blanch by letting them cook in the boiling water for 30 seconds, then immediately drain. Rinse the beans under very cold water to stop the cooking process. Using a knife, or your fingers, remove the outer membrane and squeeze out the cooked, fava bean. 

    Using a toaster or a skillet spread a little oil or butter on both sides of the bread and toast until crisp. Divide the ricotta between the two slices of toast. In a small bowl toss the fava beans with the cooked pancetta and divide between both slices. Give each toast a squeeze of lemon, a crack of pepper, and garnish with some pecorino that you can slice or grate over the top. Eat immediately and enjoy! 

     

     

    Cucumber Basil Sparkling Lemonade


    Happy Friday! I'm an SO excited about today's post because I get to share with you one of the most gorgeous concoctions that you'll find in my friend Lily's book, Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table. Lily is the mad genius behind the beautiful blog, Kale And Caramel, a space where she shares her love for food that nourishes the mind and body. With every one of her posts, she takes her readers on both a written and visual journey. She has such a wonderful way with words—able to draw you into her life in an refreshingly raw and honest fashion. Needless to say I feel quite fortunate to know her, and even luckier to call her a friend. 

    Lily's book is simply a beautiful extension of her blog. From the first word and image until the last, Lilly has created a book that tantalizes both mind and eye. She's provided a wide variety of recipes even outside the realm of cuisine which highlights the use of herbs and flowers. Tasty things to eat and drink rest comfortably alongside guides to home-made body care products. I have to be honest and say that I want to make every single recipe in this book. 

    I've already made a few recipes from Lily's book, and this wonderfully vibrant drink is one of my favorites. Fresh lemon juice is blended with cucumber, basil, and topped off with a little soda water to create a drink that's refreshing and energizing. Just the smell of this drink alone is enough to awaken me from my midday slump. With sunnier days coming my way I know this is something I'll be making again and again. 

    I love this book so much that I'm giving away one copy of KALE & CARAMEL: Recipes for Body, Heart and Table over on Instagram to one lucky person. Click here to enter, contest ends Sunday, March 30th. Must reside in the US to enter. This book comes out May 2nd, so make sure to get out there an grab yourself a copy!


    Sparkling Cucumber Basil Lemonade

    Recipe via the Kale & Caramel cookbook

    3-inch length of cucumber, chilled and coarsely chopped ( about 1/2 cup), plus some extra slices for garnish

    2 to 3 fresh basil leave, plus more for garnish

    1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, plus lemon slices for garnish

    1/4 cup still water 

    1 tbs honey or agave nectar 

    3/4 cup sparking water, or more to taste


    Method

    Add the chopped cucumber to a blender or food processor with the basil, lemon juice, still water, and honey. Blend until smooth, then distribute evenly between two glasses. 

    Add the sparkling water, agin splitting evenly between the glasses. Drop in a few ice cubes, and garnish with cucumber slices, lemon slices, and basil as desired. 

    Lemon & Roasted Rhubarb Possets


    Rhubarb is such a bizarre yet wonderful vegetable. Its vibrant, sour stalks are so versatile—they can be stewed, roasted, added to a cake, or even or served alongside a savory dish. The possibilities for rhubarb are vast, so I guess it's safe to say that I'm very excited that rhubarb is back in season.

    Last year I made this roasted strawberry and rhubarb cake which was such a joy to bake and eat. But this year I wanted to create something a little less time consuming. I’ve been wanting to cook up a batch of possets for a while now. I've found this pudding-like dessert so intriguing because a traditional version only needs about three ingredients and three minutes to cook. After that short cooking time, you add a little lemon juice, and once the dessert has cooled you're left with a creamy, pudding-like custard.

    I know I’ll be sharing more rhubarb recipes soon, but in the meantime if you happen to be looking for new ways to use it, be sure to check out the links below.

    If you're looking for a cake, take a look at this beautiful Rhubarb Almond Cake from Adventures in Cooking.

    Or maybe you want something fried like these tasty looking Rhubarb Fritters from Not Without Salt.

    Need a breakfast idea? Start your day off with a bowl of clumpy granola and stewed rhubarb from Kale & Caramel.

    And if you want to venture into savory dishes then you should check out this list from Food and Wine.


    Lemon & Roasted Rhubarb Possets

    Recipe adapted via Nigel Slater's Ripe

    makes 4 small servings

    2 cups heavy cream

    3/4 cup granulated sugar

    4 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

    3/4 tsp lemon zest

    pinch salt 

    1 tsp poppy seeds

    1/4 teaspoon vanilla

    Add the cream and sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Allow cream to bubble quite fiercely for three minutes, stirring often. The cream will bubble up, so simply adjust the heat as necessary so that the cream doesn't boil over.

    Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, pinch of salt, and vanilla extract. Pour into four small cups and allow to cool to room temperature before covering and placing them in the refrigerator. Allow to chill for a couple of hours until set.

    When you're ready to serve them, top each glass with a few pieces of rhubarb and some of the juice from the pan. Enjoy right away.


    Roasted rhubarb

    1 heaping cup of rhubarb that has been cut into 1 inch pieces

    1 1/2 tbs granulated sugar

    small baking dish

    Heat oven to 450°F.

    Place the rhubarb in a baking dish and toss with sugar. Place in the oven and roast until tender while still maintaining their shape. Allow the rhubarb to cool to room temperature before adding to the possets. 

     

     

    Thai Coconut Vegetable & Noodle Soup


    A few years ago one of my mother’s friends came over to teach us how to cook some delicious and authentic Thai food. She showed us how to make a sweet and vibrant mango salad, a wonderfully spicy Thai Curry, and finally, what became my personal favorite—a classic Tom Kha Gai soup.

    I’ve always found Thai food so intriguing for its innovative use of diverse ingredients, with many of which I’d otherwise be pretty unfamiliar. And as I thought about this wonderful Tom Kha Gai I had just a few years back, I knew I wanted to make my own Thai-inspired soup using ingredients that could expand my creativity.

    My basic trajectory was pretty simple: make a tasty soup that was true to the traditional process but which also took the dish in a new direction. So while the initial soup usually included chicken and mushrooms, I decided to incorporate other fresh and original ingredients like rice noodles, bell peppers, and broccoli.

    Two of the most unique elements in this recipe are kaffir lime leaves and galangal. Kaffir lime leaves, I believe, are one of the key reasons as to why this soup tastes so good. They exude a powerful citrusy fragrance that really add a brightness to this dish. The other unique ingredient you’ll find in this soup is galangal. It has been compared to ginger, and while it bears some similarity it’s also more spicy, with an aromatic piney scent and complex flavor. It helps bring an unfamiliar, exotic spicy layer to the soup that introduces unexpected flavors. 

    What I love most about using unique ingredients like these is that I get to go out and visit new markets. While most of the components for this soup can be found at your local store, I did have to venture out to a new Asian market for these two ingredients. Being in a new market is always a fun experience for me. I mean, being surrounded by new produce pushes me into foreign but exciting exciting territory. So if you find yourself on the hunt for these ingredients, try to find a local Asian market and take a trip—you won’t regret it! I encourage you to call ahead if possible, but if you can't just get out there and see what you find. These ingredients really make a difference in this soup, so the extra trip will be worth it.

    Knowing that I wanted to pair this soup with a great drink, I found La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Pinot Gris to be pretty perfect. It has a citrus blast at the beginning which settles down into a melon-like sweetness. This seriously enhances the whole experience and makes for a pleasant pairing. For the whole soup recipe, be sure to check out La Crema’s blog.

    Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread. This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.y

    Orange Scented Brownie Sundaes


         Last week John and I met up with our niece to catch up, drink some beer, and muse upon our hopes and dreams. Somewhere throughout the conversation, she told us about this new drink she’s been making (she’s quite the talented barista). This is how she does it: she begins by muddling an orange peel with melted dark chocolate ganache, then pulls a shot of espresso through cinnamon that’s been dusted on the machine, then tops the finished product with steamed milk.

         As I listened to her describe this admittedly creative and unique take on a familiar drink, I started soaking up inspiration for what would eventually become these sundaes. It’s a pretty straight-drawn line from inspiration to creation—a beautiful blend of rich chocolate, bright citrus, aromatic coffee, and soothing whipped cream. I decided to use bittersweet chocolate and espresso powder to create a depth of chocoltaly flavor , fresh orange zest for a sweet citrus burst.  

         These chocolatey squares strike a great balance between the two attributes of every good brownie—they have both a fudgy chewiness and a cakey fluffiness. Best of all, they achieve that ever elusive and ceaselessly sought-after shiny, crackly crust. Now one thing to remember is that while of course these brownies find a comfortable place when nestled into a sundae, they also taste just as amazing on their own.

         I didn’t include an exact recipe for these sundaes since everyone will likely prefer different ratios of brownie-to-ice cream. Instead I wanted to give you the inspiration to make these sundaes if you find yourself wanting to turn this batch of brownies into something new. 

    Thank you for the inspiration for the recipe Rebecca, love you!


    Orange Scented Brownie

    1 stick unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing 

    3 oz unsweetened bakers chocolate, finely chopped

    1 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

     1 1/4 cup granulated sugar 

    zest of one large orange

    2 teaspoons vanilla extract

    2 large eggs, room temperature

    1/2 cup, plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

    3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder

    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/4 teaspoon baking powder


    Method

    Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8x8 square baking pan and line with two strips of overlapping parchment paper. Be sure to leave a little over hang as this helps during the removal process.

    Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in small bowl and set aside. In another bowl combine the sugar and orange zest by rubbing together with your fingers until fragrant and the zest has been incorporated into the sugar. 

    Add the butter to a saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Once melted add in the both chocolates, vanilla extract and espresso powder and mix until smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate mixture to a large bowl.

    Whisk the sugar into the melted chocolate mixture. Once combined, beat in the eggs one at a time until smooth.

    Fold the flour into the melted chocolate mixture with a spatula until smooth, then pour the mixture into the prepared pan.

    Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center only has a few moist crumbs attached. Place on cooling rack to cool. Once cool, remove from pan and cut into 16 squares.

    Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

    Tip: Wipe knife between cuts for cleaner edges on the brownies.

    How to make a sundae

    Simply cut the brownie into desired sized pieces. Top the brownie with a generous scoop of coffee ice cream, (I got mine from Molly Moon's), a dollop of whipped cream, and some chopped hazelnuts. And that's all it takes to make the sundae of your dreams!

    Double Citrus Cardamom Loaf


    Seattle has been really, really wet and grey this Winter. This may not come as a surprise because, duh it's Seattle, but this year has been especially dark and wet. Thankfully there's finally light at the end of the rainy tunnel because today is the first day of spring, which means a change of weather is on the horizon. To celebrate the new season I filled my office with bright flowers and decided to bake something special for John and I, which ended up being this gorgeous double citrus cardamom loaf.

    Linda Lomelino recently shared a recipe for her Blood Orange & Black Sesame Seed Loaf and I instantly fell in love. Her photography is stunning, but her use of color is what captured my attention. Just looking at her pictures made me so happy that I wanted to keep that feeling alive, so I gathered my ingredients and made a slightly adapted version of her loaf.

    Orange, lemon, and cardamom are the three main flavors you'll find in this loaf, and they all compliment each other beautifully. As you look over the recipe there is one step that may be new to you, as it was to me, and that is to rub the orange zest into the sugar before adding it to the butter. I picked up this tip from Yosi Arefi's book, Sweeter of the Vine, and I do it every time I add citrus zest to my baked goods. I really love this extra step because rubbing the zest into the sugar further infuses the citrus oil which increases its flavor presence in this recipe. By no means does it make the orange flavor overwhelming, instead it makes it more present, which is exactly what I love about this loaf.

    While it may not feel like spring for a while in Seattle, at least I know I can bring that spring-time feeling indoors by surrounding myself with bright colors and flavorful treats like this loaf which are great reminders of what's to come.

    Happy first day of spring!


    Double Citrus Loaf

    slightly adapted from Linda Lomelino

    2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

    1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

    1 1/2 tsp. cardamon

    1/4 tsp. table salt

    1 1/2 stick softened unsalted butter

    1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

    3 large eggs, room temp

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1 scant tablespoon finely grated blood orange zest

    1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tbs milk

    1/3 cup fresh blood orange juice

    Equipment: 9x5 inch loaf pan, handheld or standing mixer fitter with paddle attachment


    Method

    Heat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease and flour a 9x5 inch loaf pan; tap out any excess flour.

    Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom until combined; set aside.

    In another bowl add the sugar and orange zest and begin to rub with your fingers until fragrant and the zest has been incorporated into the sugar. Add the sugar to the butter and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition.

    Add the flour mixture, blood orange juice and milk in additions to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, smooth the top, and place on the lower oven rack. Bake the loaf for about 75 minutes, but Linda  mentions that its best to start checking around 60 minutes. She also suggests to cover the top of the loaf with foil if the loaf is getting too much color.

    Remove the loaf from the oven when a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the loaf to cool for about 15 minutes, then invert on to a rack to cool completely.

    Once completely cooled, top with glaze and enjoy.

    Meyer Lemon Frosting

    1 cup powdered sugar

    2 tbs Meyer lemons

    Zest of one small Meyer lemon


    Method

    Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. If the texture seems too thick, add a little more lemon juice. Alternatively, is a thicker texture is desired simply add more powdered sugar. 

     

     

    SKILLET BAKED CHIPOTLE ENCHILADAS


         Enchiladas bring me back to my roots. Even an infrequent glance at The Broken Bread will reveal to any reader that my Mexican upbringing has contributed incalculably to my cooking. Enchiladas is no exception, and it’s been one of my favorite dishes since childhood. 

         For this recipe, I wanted to do justice to a solid, classic plate of enchiladas while giving them a fresh twist. I landed on a spicy, smoky chipotle sauce. This drenches the whole dish with the fragrance of char and a gentle nudge of heat. So perfect.

         Having locked down my special sauce, I turned my attention towards how I’d prepare my enchiladas. While these are usually rolled up individually, I instead layered all the ingredients together in a skillet which made for a welcomed shortcut. I also found that La Crema’s Monterey Pinot Noir paired very well with this dish. It excellently combines the aroma of plums, the taste of cherry and coffee, and a sweet yet spicy finish. Be sure to head over to La Crema’s website for my full enchilada recipe. 

    Basil & Garlic Pasta Dough


    Before John and I set out for our honeymoon, we received a piece of advice from uncle Paul and aunt Jackie that we’ll never forget. They laid out for us the two main ways one could embrace travel. One way was to blow all your money in a week on exuberant food and lodging for an admittedly fantastic and thrilling experience. But the other way was to trickle your money out slow, staying in humble hostels, feasting on baguettes and wine by a river or on the steps of an aged cathedral, soaking up every moment enthralled more with one another than with whatever money alone can secure. Wielding the latter piece of this advice to navigate our honeymoon like one would a map to explore a city, we set off to spend a whole month traveling through Europe.

    Now on this trip of ours, we spent most our time carving through the wonderful city streets of Rome, Venice, and Florence. And when looking back on these sweet Italian memories, one thing in particular remains at the fore: the scrumptious, delectable, never-ending pasta. We enjoyed this classic meal so many times and in so many ways that we knew we had to get our hands on a pasta maker once we were back in the states.

    And that brings me to this delicious herbed pasta. Basil and garlic lend a welcomed, delicate flavor while parmigiano-reggiano and olive oil impart a buttery, salty texture. And since making pasta with a hand-cranked machine takes long enough as it is, I started with a blender to whip up my dough. I used Vitamix’s new A3300 blender to tackle this task, and with it I had my dough ready in mere seconds. 

    Now this beautiful machine is part of an exciting new series of blenders from Vitamix, and so I thought it would be splendid to host a giveaway so one of these could find their way into your home. In order to enter, just leave a comment below telling me what you would make with this blender if you won! Just remember that you must be 18 or over and a resident of the United States to enter. Good luck! Contest is now closed. Congrats to Kelli W.!! Thank you for all of the amazing entries!

    I know making pasta at home can seem like an intimidating process at first, but I promise it's way easier than you think. I've included a few tips and links below to help you on your pasta-making journey.

    Bon Appétit!

     

    Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread. All opinions are my own.


    Basil & Garlic Pasta Dough

    Recipe adapted from The New York Times & Vitamix

    Yields about 1 lb of pasta, serves about 4

    2 large eggs plus 2 egg yolks

    2 teaspoons olive oil

    1 clove garlic

    10 basil leaves (¼ oz), rinsed and dried 

    2 cups all-purpose flour (240 g), plus some extra 

    1/2 teaspoon sea salt

    AP flour or semolina, for dusting

    I used this Cacio e Pepe recipe for my pasta

    Equipment: Vitamix Blender Ascent 3300, Pasta Machine, Large pot


    Method

    Place the two eggs, two yolks, olive oil, garlic, and basil into the Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select Variable 1 (not 1+), turn the machine on, and slowly increase speed to the highest setting. Blend for 20 seconds.

    Remove the lid and add the flour and the salt. Place the lid back on and select variable 3. Using the pulse button, pulse 5-6 times. The dough should start to come together. Remove the lid and scrape down the sides as necessary. 

    Place the lid back on and pulse the dough an additional 5-6 times. Remove the lid and check the dough. If it seems wet and sticks to your finger when touched, sprinkle in a bit more flour, and pulse an additional 2-3 times. The dough should form a ball at this point, but it's also okay if a few pieces don't fully incorporated. 

    Dump the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 4 minutes. If the dough feels sticky and clings to your hands, continue to sprinkle in some additional flour and continue kneading. Once the dough is smooth and elastic, tightly cover in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

    Cut dough into four pieces. Working with one piece at a time (leaving the others wrapped), lightly dust the portion with flour and flatten into a disc with your hand. Next, feed the piece of dough through your pasta machine starting on the widest setting. Do this two times. Fold your dough into thirds and feed it through the pasta machine lengthwise. Do this two times as well.

    Adjust the machine to the next setting and continue to roll out the pasta dough, 2 passes for each setting, all the way down to the last and narrowest setting. Once on this last setting, the pasta strip will likely become quite long, so go ahead and cut it in half—this will make it easier to handle.

    Use the machine's fettuccini attachment to cut the pasta into strips. Dust with flour or semolina if using right away, and lay out onto a baking sheet. Alternatively, you can also dust the pasta and gently form into nests. If not using the pasta right away you can place it on a drying rack and let dry overnight.

    Repeat this process for the 3 other pasta portions. If cooking right away, pasta will cook in heavily salted, boiling water in 2-3 minutes. Top with your favorite sauce and enjoy. 

    Some Additional Pasta Tips

    The most important thing to pay attention to when making pasta is to focus on the texture of the pasta dough. If the dough is too sticky you'll end up with one big mess in the end, so let the pasta dough tell you how much flour it needs and add accordingly. The goal is to have a ball of dough that isn't sticky, but is still slightly moist and pliable. Alternatively, if you find your dough to be to dry, add a tiny drop of water until the texture of the dough corrects. I found this article to be very helpful, it even suggested using a water spray bottle if you end up with dry dough, which I found to be genius! 

    If you don’t have a pasta machine, check out Cooks Illustrated or Bon Appetit for tips on how to make pasta without one.

    Matcha & White Chocolate Dipped Strawberries


         A few years ago I took my brother to this ice cream shop in Anaheim, CA that served these pre-made ice cream bars that you could custom dip in whatever type of chocolate you wanted. He got a peanut butter bar dipped in chocolate (which was delicious) and I got a matcha bar dipped in white chocolate (which was even better). This flavor combination might sound a little weird at first, especially if you aren't a fan of white chocolate, but I promise it is SO good. 

         While strawberries aren't really in season I couldn't resist grabbing some at the store. Winter has been weighing on me lately, and biting into a strawberry is the closest thing I have to the joy of the warmer months yet to come. I actually lucked out because the berries I got tasted way better that expected—making them perfect for my chocolate-dipping endeavors.

         I know that sharing a recipe for chocolate dipped strawberries as a Valentines's Day dessert is very cliche, but these strawberries are a whole new take on the tradition. Holiday or not these matcha flavored treats are begging to be made. 


    Matcha White Chocolate dip

    adapted from betty crocker

    1 cup white chocolate chips

    2 tsp coconut oil

    2 1/2-3 tsp matcha powder

    1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed and dried

    Equipment: Microwave or saucepan, small-medium sized bowl, whisk, and parchment paper


    Method

    Add the chocolate chips and coconut oil to a bowl and melt. This can easily be done in a microwave—simply microwave in 2-3 30 second intervals, mixing in between until chocolate is melted. Alternatively you can melt the chocolate an coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat until smooth.

    Once the chocolate is melted, remove 11/2 tablespoons of the white chocolate and pour it into a separate bowl. Whisk in 2 1/2 teaspoons of the matcha powder into the white chocolate until smooth. Taste, and add an additional 1/2 teaspoon if desired. 

    Dip each strawberry into the white chocolate mixture and set on a piece of parchment paper. Once all strawberries have been dipped, dip a fork or a knife into the small bowl of the reserved melted white chocolate and drizzle in a "Z" motion over each strawberry. Allow the chocolate to firm up before serving.

    Enjoy!

     

    Fried Polenta with Braised Leeks


    Comfort food has been on constant rotation in my home lately and I recently made a dish that I just can't get enough of: pan fried polenta with braised leeks. Polenta is already a dreamy dish on its own, but once fried, it immediately turns into a new and exciting dish. I realize that there are so many wonderful veggies that I could have used to complement my fried polenta, but for some reason I was drawn to these beautiful leeks. Aren't they gorgeous?

    I absolutely love leeks. I find their flavor to be very pleasing but not too overwhelming, making them (in my mind) a perfect match for the polenta. As of late I've been sauteeing my leeks (usually for soups), but for this dish I wanted a different form of preparation—so I thought braising them would be great. I have to thank Amber Wilson for the idea of braising leeks, which I found featured as one of her recipes on food52. After a little experimentation, I came up with a slightly adapted method of Amber’s braising recipe. 

    The process is pretty straight forward. First you sear the cut side of the leeks, flip them over, add a little broth, and cook them slowly at a low temperature until you they become juicy and flavorful. This cooking method is typically used for various types of meats. But I found that taking this approach ended up being at a wonderful way to get even more flavor out of these leeks.

    I could easily eat a bowl of these leeks on their own, but adding them to a dish of fried polenta is totally worth those few extra steps. Especially with a glass of La Crema's Monterey Chardonnay in hand. Make sure to head over to La Crema's blog to get the recipe for these fried polenta triangles so you can make this appetizer at home.

    Thank you again for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread.


    Braised Leeks

    2 1/2 tbs unsalted butter

    4 leeks

    3 tablespoons chicken or veggie stock

    1 small lemon

    salt and pepper, to taste

    parsley, for garnish

    3-4 tablespoons chopped bacon (about 4 cooked strips)

    Equipment: 1, 3.5 Qt sauté pan, serrated knife- if available


    Method

    Remove one outer layer from each leek, rinse, trim the roots, and cut off any dark green parts (you only want the white and very light green parts). Half each leek lengthwise, rinse again (if needed), then pat dry.

    Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter is hot, add the leeks to the pan, cut side down. Press down on the leeks a bit to ensure a nice, even browning. Let the leeks cook for about 3 minutes, or until browned, then flip over. Immediately reduce heat to low and add 3 tablespoons of stock to the pan. Partially cover the leeks with a lid and let cook until tender which should take about 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the leeks.

    Once the leeks are fork tender, remove them from the heat. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over the leeks and season with salt and pepper to taste. Carefully remove the leeks and cut away any papery layers may be separating. Using a serrated knife, carefully cut the leeks into bite sized pieces. Transfer the leeks back to the skillet and keep warm until ready to serve over the fried polenta. Garnish the finished dish with chopped bacon and freshly chopped parsley.

    ROSEMARY GRAPEFRUIT GIMLET


         These past few days have been a whirlwind, both personally and politically. I have been so confused and sadden by the trajectory our president has set this country on; it’s one that I don’t agree with, and one I absolutely do not support. I typically stay pretty neutral about my personal views when it comes to the blog, but I wanted to share what I’m feeling today because I believe that’s the only way I can grow, and hopefully help others grow. For now I am focusing on the power of love.

         I know there is a lot of research for me to do to help me get a better grasp of how I can help those being affected during these trying times, and I believe that being vocal about my views is definitely the first step.

         With all of this madness going on I find myself diving deeper into my work. Not to escape reality, but in an attempt to foster feelings of joy. This joy is something that I want to share with everyone who visits this space. My husband and I have been long-time fans of the Greyhound—a classic cocktail made from vodka and grapefruit. When we were dating, John would bring over some of this fresh, bitter citrus and we would juice it into the most delicious of drinks. And since for this cocktail we wanted to explore the herbal notes of gin while reinterpreting the Greyhound, we decided to make a Gimlet with grapefruit in place of the customary lime. Lastly, we added a lovely rosemary simple syrup, which complements the tartness of the grapefruit and the already present botanical flavor of Hendrick’s gin. This drink is light and refreshing, and the striking blush color it gets from the grapefruit makes this an especially handsome cocktail.

         I hope that you enjoy this video and recipe, and perhaps you and your loved one can make this drink for each other on Valentine’s Day—I know John and I will!


    Rosemary Grapefruit Gimlet

    Inspired by David Lebovitz

    Makes 1 drink

    1 1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice

    1/2 oz rosemary simple syrup- I made this one from David Lebovitz

    2 oz gin of choice- I used Hendrick’s

    Few cubes of ice, for the shaker

    Rosemary for garnish

    Equipment: jigger, cocktail shaker, 1x 6oz cocktail glass (I used a Nick & Nora glass)


    Place the grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and gin into a cocktail shaker filled with a handful of ice. Secure the top and shake for about 20 seconds. Pour into glass and garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

    Cheesy Bacon & Jalapeno Pull-Apart Bread


         One wouldn’t exactly be inclined to refer to John and I as avid fans of sports. However, we both really do love getting together with our friends to watch a thrilling game and spend time with one another. Whether it’s witnessing the UEFA finals unfold at an Irish pub in Strasbourg with our brother-in-law like we did this summer or just watching the Seahawks while relaxing with our friends, we always have a great time.

         With that said, the Super Bowl is just a couple weeks away and so I’ve been developing a special recipe for the occasion. Football game hangouts are replete with enough chicken wings, onion dips, and sliders—I wanted to make something inviting but unexpected. That’s when I decided that this pull-apart bread would be ideal. And boy is it scrumptious! Cheddar and mozzarella both creamy and tangy reside within the melted butter-saturated crevices of a warm round of baked bread. Chunks of applewood-smoked bacon channel the salt, smoke, and char for which it is rightfully loved while slices of jalapeno cut through the richness of it all for some pleasant relief. Guys, this pull-apart bread is serious. 

         Now the one thing you cannot forget when making this recipe is to start with high-quality bread. For this I turned to La Brea Bakery’s Italian Round Loaf, whose flavorful and fluffy texture really makes this recipe shine. Though I now live in Seattle, I grew up in Los Angeles and remember going to La Brea Bakery for a treat of an artisan baking experience. Even now, when John and I visit Southern California we often make time to stroll into their cafe on La Brea avenue. Their commitment to avoid all artificial flavors, colors and preservatives and to use only non-GMO ingredients has established a firm foundation for their quality. 

         The Super Bowl is a time to indulge and enjoy one another, and I hope this recipe will make it that much better. 

    This post was sponsored by La Brea Bakery. All opinions are my own. As always, thank you for supporting the brands that support The Broken Bread.


    Cheesy Bacon & Jalapeño Pull-Apart Bread

    1 Italian Round from La Brea bakery

    ¾ cup (3 oz) shredded mozzarella cheese

    ¾ cup (3 oz) shredded cheddar cheese 

    1 cup chopped cooked bacon, about 1, 12 oz pack uncooked

    ⅓ cup sliced pickled jalapenos, chopped

    1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

    3-4 tablespoons chopped parsley, for garnish

    Equipment: Serrated bread knife, Cutting board, Aluminum foil (extra wide if available), baking sheet, pastry brush if available.


    Method

    Heat the oven to 350°. Place both cheeses in a medium bowl along with the bacon and chopped jalapeños. Toss to combine; set aside.

    Place the bread on a cutting board and slice the bread into 1 inch slices, making sure not to cut all the way through the bread. Rotate the bread 90°and slice the bread again creating a cross hatch appearance.

    Carefully stuff all the newly created crevasse of the bread with the cheese mixture. It may seem like too much filling at first, but have faith and stuff every nook and cranny of that sliced bread.

    Drizzle the melted butter over the entire loaf. Use a pastry brush to brush the top of the bread with a residual butter left in the dish, or with any butter that happened to overflow while pouring.

    Wrap the load tightly with tin foil that’s been sprayed with a little non-stick spray. The non stick spray isn’t super necessary, you might end up with a little cheese stuck to the tin foil. Place the loaf on a baking sheet and put into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Increase the heat to 400°F, remove from oven, and carefully unwrap the bread. Place back into the oven and bake for an additional 8-10 until crisp and lightly browned.

    Removed from oven, remove foil, and devour immediately.


    Orange & Vanilla Fritters


         I absolutely love getting new cookbooks. It’s so pleasant to sit down with a cup of coffee and to explore all the creative arrangements someone has poured into a fresh volume for us all to enjoy. I recently had such an experience flipping through Huckleberry, Zoe Nathan’s new cookbook written with the help of her husband Josh Loeb and her friend Laurel Almerinda. 

         Page after page I was continually greeted with exciting recipes that begged to made. However, Nathan’s lemon and ricotta fritters caught my attention in a special way—and I thought I’d produce my own version. 

         I chose orange and vanilla as the primary flavors in this adaptation, and the result is like a cross between a 50/50 bar and a funnel cake—pretty much perfect. And while these are great on their own, I decided to take them one step further with a chocolate dipping sauce which adds one more stage of indulgent deliciousness. 


    Orange Vanilla Fritters

    Barely adapted from Zoe Nathan’s Huckleberry cookbook.

    Makes 18- 20 fritters

    2 large eggs, separated 

    ½ cup ricotta

    zest of 1 large orange, preferably organic

    1/3 cup whole milk

    1 tsp vanilla extract

    1 cup all-purpose flour

    5 tsp granulated sugar

    ¾ teaspoon kosher salt

    ½ tsp baking powder

    2 tbs unsalted butter, melted

    powdered sugar for dusting 

    Equipment: Dutch oven, Candy thermometer


    Method

    In a dutch oven or countertop fryer heat 3 inches of oil to 375°F

    Whisk together the egg yolks, ricotta lemon zest, and milk in a small bowl.

    In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder.

    In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form, 3 to 4 minutes. 

    Meanwhile, add the egg yolk mixture to the flour mixture, followed by the butter. Stir until just combined. Gently fold in the egg whites.

    Using a soup spoon, scoop up to 2 ½ tbs of batter and ease it into the hot oil using another spoon. Fry in batches until golden brown about 5-6 minutes.

    Allow to cool slightly on a cooling rack, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

    These fritters will not keep so eat right away.


    Chocolate Dipping Sauce

    1/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

    1 tbs cocoa powder

    4 tbs milk, or more if a thinner sauce is preferred 


    Place the chocolate chips and cocoa powder into a small bowl; set aside.

    Place the heavy cream or milk in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Pour the hot liquid over the chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Let sit for 1 minutes then whisk until smooth. If the sauce is too thick, simply whisk in a little extra warm milk until desired texture is achieved.