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
"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:
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!