Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Blue Cheese Pecan Bread

I've been stalking the cookbook section of the local library lately. And when I say stalking, I really mean it. Sometimes I wonder what the folks up there think of me as I stumble up to the counter carrying as many cookbooks as possible. Yesterday I managed to carry fifteen books in my hands. It was nearly impossible, but oh so worth it. If I could only get my hands on the librarian's push cart they would really be in trouble!

Anyway, you can't beat the library when it comes to taking home loads and loads of cookbooks.....for free! It really gets my adrenaline flowing...can ya tell? Enough about all that. One of the cookbooks that I smuggled is called Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose. I liked it so much that I renewed it again just yesterday.

Martha is the executive chef at Viking Cooking School and teaches thousands of home cooks every year. Martha is from the Mississippi Delta and her recipes feature Southern cooking, but with a contemporary flair. For example, Martha enhances her Sweet Potato Soup with coconut milk and curry powder. Her Blackberry Limeade gets a lift from cardamom. Martha reinvents Southern Sweet Tea by turning it into a pie ----yes, Sweet Tea Pie! I'd love to have a slice of that! In addition, each recipe is laced with stories, both humorous and touching. It really is a fabulous cookbook.

From the Hot From The Oven Chapter, I made Martha's Blue Cheese Pecan Bread. I had some blue cheese to use up and this sounded like a unique and fun recipe to try.

Blue Cheese Pecan Bread
Adapted from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea
Makes one 8-inch Round Loaf
Martha Says-
"Whether serving this at your next gathering or presenting it as a gift, you will enjoy the ease in preparing this plump, savory round. I love this bread sliced thin and toasted, served with a glass of white wine. Ring the doorbell with your elbow and present the hostess with a bottle of wine and this bread, and you will most likely be invited back."
4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces, chilled
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture looks like oatmeal. Add the cheese and nuts, and toss to distribute in the flour. Make a well in the center and add 1-1/2 cups of the buttermilk and the egg. Stir with a sturdy spoon until you have a shaggy dough.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently to bring together. Form into a slightly flattened 6 inch round. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk and sprinkle with pepper. With a serrated knife, cut a shallow X in the top of the loaf.

Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 375F and bake for 35 minutes, or until the loaf is deep golden brown and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack.

Results/Notes: I love that this is such a unique quick bread, one that I've never heard of or tried before. It was quick and easy to put together and resembles the consistency of a biscuit, which is really nice. The pecans sprinkled throughout the bread are crunchy and the blue cheese melts into the bread giving it just a hint of blue cheese flavor. I'm really enjoying this bread plain or with a little bit of butter. Martha recommends serving it with white wine and/or sliced Granny Smith apples and red grapes. I would make this again to serve at a party alongside a cheeseboard or fruit platter. With the black pepper sprinkled on top it is a very pretty loaf of bread.

Other bookmarked recipes include
Blackberry Limeade
Comeback Sauce
Pimento Cheese
Apron String Biscuits with Tomato Gravy
Delta Cream Doughnuts
Biloxi Banana Bread
Polka Dot Shortbread
Brown Sugar Angel Food Cake
Sweet Tea Pie
Darkness on the Delta
Ponchatoula Strawberry Cupcakes
Swimming Pool Orange Sherbet
and......Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream

If only I could eat them all!


  1. Ha, I feel the same way about the library. Its like a treasure chest of free goodies. I wonder why its always so empty. Its like totally undiscovered or something.
    This is a wonderful looking bread, sounds delicious. It also looks very English to me for some reason.
    *kisses* HH

  2. I got a chance to look through this book at a friend's house. I agree Kim, it's a goodie. So is that gorgeous bread you've made. I love nuts and blue cheese and it sounds so easy too.
    Thanks for the recipe.

    I love the library too for cookbooks. Trouble is I usually end up liking them and order them for my own shelf.

  3. I love getting cookbooks from the library, but I end up liking so many that I want to purchase that my list is growing monthly!
    The bread looks amazing! I'm having quite some visitors in the next few months so I will definitely bookmark this for a great evening cocktail hour. Thanks for posting!

  4. I could basically live in my library if they would let me! I love it there. And yes it is the best place to get cookbooks. I'm convinced.

    I really like the sound of this cookbook! I'm going to have to check it out (pun totally intended). This quickbread sounds crazy good...I love the idea of a savory one! And stuffed with blue cheese...priceless.

  5. 15 books, lol! You go girl! This bread sounds wonderful! I've never had blue cheese in a bread before. What a delicious idea. You deliver, right?

  6. Pecan bread is so yummy. I've never had a savory version. Only pecan cranberry or other dried fruits. I'm sure I'd like the blue cheese one! Very interested in the sweet tea pie.

  7. I too love getting cookbooks at the library. Its sort of like a test drive, before I end up buying them.
    Your bread sound delicious.

  8. Oh boy, another cookbook I've got to check out!!

  9. The library is the best! We should start a "go to the library and cook something" movement! I love the blue cheese in this and the pecans only make me desire it more. Grand choice! Must check it out!

  10. I guess I enjoyed reading this blog better than any I have read in a long time. Just the mention of "screen doors and sweet tea" caught my eyes...since that is a remembrance to me of my childhood days! Oh, how enjoy cookbooks too and never even thought about going to the library to get them. Thank you for such a lovely blog post...Blessings, K

  11. i never think to get cookbooks at the library, but it really is an excellent and money saving idea! i need to get on that! this bread sounds incredible, i've never had blue cheese in bread before, delicious!

  12. I, too, am a library cookbook junkie. This past time I found 2 cookbooks that I love and I've been going crazy cooking. The blue cheese bread sounds wonderful!

  13. I can tell by the number of cookbooks on your sidebar that you are working diligently through numerous recipes. I admire your passion to pursue so many great recipes, ideas and techniques. This looks like a great savory crumbly bread recipe.

  14. wow what cool flavors are in this bread, your a true foodie love it

  15. Gorgeous bread! A very fun way to use up blue cheese. You are smart--I need to utilize the library more. I have seen this book but have not flipped through it, but all of the recipes you tagged sound really good!

  16. This is a beautiful bread! Love the blue cheese in it to give it a little zing. You're going to be cooking up a storm with all those cookbooks! It's great cause we get to benefit from it!

  17. This bread looks and sounds wonderful! Loved the bit about the library:)

  18. You sound just like me!!! My pile always teeters precariously in my arms as I make my way through the library. We need some granny carts to take with us =) This bread is making me do a happy cheese stuffed right inside my bread, aw yeah. Looks like another book to add to my own pile next trip!

  19. Oh man...I thought I was the only one taking more than my fair share of cookbooks out of the library! It's hard to be subtle when you are stalking the "new arrivals" shelf! This looks like a great choice - I'll have to look for it! Nice recipe too. Thanx!

  20. Blue cheese and pecans sound like a great combination.

  21. This is in my all time top five favorite cookbooks. Haven't made this bread yet though - it's now on the priority list. Looks divine!

  22. I love the library for cookbooks! Haven't had time to check any out for a while, but you have inspired me to go back. This bread looks fantastic! I have made a couple of breads/biscuits with blue cheese and they have always been well received. I will definitely have to give this one a try!

  23. I met Martha at the Epicurean Classic, and event held in Traverse City, Michigan, a few years ago when her cookbook was being released. She is a wonderful chef and personality, wish she lived in my neck of the woods. I bought her book and love it! The recipes, anecdotes and stories make it something I like to read in bed! I made the Biloxi Banana Bread a few weeks ago and my entire family absolutely loved it more than any other banana bread I've ever made. I also made her Banana Pudding and it was excellent too. I'll have to try this recipe next, it looks delicious and I love blue cheese.

  24. I love checking out cook books from the library. I am so lucky to have a wonderful library system where I live.

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