Rainy weekends make baking homemade bread a delightful treat! One of my favorites is grilled cheese sandwiches made with fresh baked bread and served with hot tomato soup. We usually jazz up our grilled cheese sandwiches with bacon and avocado.
Bacon, avocado, grilled cheese sammie with tomato soup
3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups water room temperature
1. Mix flour, salt and yeast in a big bowl. Using a wooden spoon add water to the bowl and mix until it’s a sticky ball.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature.
3. Preheat oven to 450 F degrees. Add cast iron pot to the oven while it’s preheating.
4. Remove the cast iron from the oven and set lid aside. So the bread doesn’t stick to the pot, sprinkle flour or cornmeal to the bottom. I prefer to use cornmeal.
5. Flour your hands really well, pick up the dough and shape roughly into a ball. Place the dough into the pot. Cover the pot with the lid and place into oven.
6. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on.
7. Remove lid and back for another 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.
8. Remove the bread from the pot. Let cool before slicing to serve.
No Knead Bread
This is tasty holiday crowd pleaser for those crazy lactose intolerant relatives, yes this is me. It’s one of my favorite creations by my dearest sister-in-law, Jocelyn Woods.
Serving size: 4
1/4 c green onion
1/2 c golden raisins
1/3 c diced dates
3/4 c cranberries
1/3 c sliced figs
1/2 c sliced apricots
1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
1 small clove garlic
1 T fresh thyme
1/4 c honey
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c canola/vegetable oil
salt and pepper
1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk the dressing together and pour over fruit mixture. Mix well.
2. Serve over goat cheese rounds. Let stand about 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Contributor: Jocelyn Woods
Weihnachtsstollen is a traditional German fruit bread that has become one of my favorite Christmas traditions. The Wisconsin Electric Power Company would publish an annual holiday cookbook. This recipe was from their 1966 edition.
Stollen dates back to the 14th century when Germans baked loaves at Christmas to honor princes and church dignitaries, and to sell at fairs and festivals for holiday celebrations. It can be enjoyed at anytime of day!
Serving Size: 3 stollen loaves
- 2 packages active dry yeast or 1 oz. compressed yeast
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 cup butter
- 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 cup seedless dark raisins
- 1/2 cup diced dried cherries
- 1/2 cup diced dried apricots
- About 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- Melted butter
Soften active dry yeast in warm water or compressed yeast in lukewarm water. Scald milk; stir in sugar, salt and butter; cool to lukewarm.
Stir in 2 cups flour, yeast, eggs and cardamom; mix in fruit and enough remaining flour to make a stiff dough.
Knead on floured surface; place in greased bowl; grease top of dough; cover and let rise until doubled. Punch dough down; cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Divide into three equal parts. Shape each piece into an 8 x 10 inch oval; fold lengthwise and place in greased shallow pans.
Let rise until doubled and bake at 350 degrees about 30 minutes. Frost and decorate if desired.
Contributor: Elaine Woods
This recipe is from a dear friend, Brad Thomas. It is a great appetizer for any occasion. It’s so good even the kids will beg more. Typically for a smaller gathering we’ll half the recipe below.
Serving Size: 8 – 10
- 1 large seedless, English cucumber
- 2-3 T, fresh minced dill fronds
- 6-8 green onions, diced
- 1 large clove of garlic, chopped
- Pink peppercorns, for color
- Olive oil
- ¾ pound of Greek Feta
- 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
Cut the cucumber into long strips and dice into ¼” pieces. Place in a medium mixing bowl. Add the dill, green onions and garlic. Toss with olive oil until saturated. Add the juice from 1 lemon and about 1 tsp. of lemon zest. Add the peppercorns. Add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the feta and arrange in a layer on a platter. Pour the cucumber mix over the top of the feta.
Serve with sliced baguette or toasted pita triangles.
Serving Size: 4
- 1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/2 lb. ground veal
- 1/2 lb. ground pork
- 2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
- 2 each eggs
Preheat oven to 350°
Sauté the onion and garlic
- Heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Set aside and let cool.
Make the glaze
- Mix chili sauce, brown sugar, and cider vinegar in a bowl; set aside.
Combine the ingredients and make a free form shaped meat loaf.
- Mix eggs with thyme, salt, pepper, mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and milk.
- Add egg mixture to meat mixture in a large bowl, along with bread crumbs, parsley, and cooked onions; mix with fork until evenly blended and meat mixture doesn’t stick to the bowl.
- If it does stick add a couple more teaspoons of milk until mixture doesn’t stick.
Bake the meatloaf
- Cover a wire rack with foil; prick the foil in several places with a fork. Place rack on a foil lined shallow pan for easy clean up.
- Set loaf on rack. Brush with glaze.
- Bake loaf until it registers 160°, about 1 hour.
- For extra goodness – lay bacon over the top before baking.
While living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin our good friend, Charlie, got me hooked on a fantastic Christmas cocktail, Tom & Jerry. It’s a very midwestern drink with the batter only available November through February. Early November I start staking the liquor and grocery stores for the pre-made batter. I can plow through a pre-made pint quickly and soon discovered how easy it is to make at home. The batter turns out the best when made when the temps are below zero to quick freezing of the batter.
Proper Tom & Jerry with Brandy
- 6 eggs separated
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- Beat egg whites until stiff.
- Slowly add in sugar.
- Clean the beaters.
- Beat yolks until pale yellow for about 10-15 minutes.
- Add baking soda to egg whites.
- Fold in yolks.
- Cool on garage floor. The older outside the better.
Serving size: 8 – 10
- Nonstick vegetable oil spray
- 1 large egg white
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp golden brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves
- 1 cup chocolate wafer cookie crumbs (about half of one 9-ounce package cookies, finely ground in processor)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 (3.1oz.) disk Mexican chocolate (such as Ibarra), chopped
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Lightly sweetened whipped cream
DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.
- Whisk all ingredients except pecans in medium bowl.
- Stir in pecans.
- Spread in single layer on sheet, rounded side up.
- Bake until just browned and dry, about 15 minutes.
- Cool on sheet.
- Separate nuts, removing excess coating.
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Blend first 4 ingredients in processor.
- Add melted butter; process until crumbs are moistened.
- Press crumbs into 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom, to within 1/8 inch of top.
- Bake until set, about 20 minutes.
- Cool on rack.
- Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan.
- Remove from heat.
- Add chocolates; whisk until melted.
- Add butter, 1 piece at a time; whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in vanilla, cinnamon, and salt.
- Pour filling into crust.
- Chill until filling begins to set, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Arrange nuts in concentric circles atop tart.
- Chill until set, about 4 hours.
- DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead.
- Cover loosely with foil and keep chilled. Serve tart with whipped cream.