I love bread! I don’t discriminate, I love just about every kind of bread. Wheat, Italian, ciabatta, cinnamon raisin, banana, bagels, croissants, sourdough, rye, pumpernickel, rolls, buns, Hawaiian, doughnuts, pizza…pretty much if it has some combination of flour, water, salt, sometimes yeast then I will probably love it. A little over a year ago an awesome friend of ours Alex made us homemade buns and breads while we were at his house. Since I enjoy cooking it was no surprise that Alex’s delicious hamburger buns inspired me to go home and begin making my own breads. Though I am no expert, I am always trying different ways of using bread at home. Everything from basic white loaves to pizza doughs to desserts. This weekend was no exception. Per usual, I was feeling a burning in my culinary bosom. We had a colleague over Friday night and I wanted to do something Italian. Saturday we watched an enticing episode on Food Network called The Best Thing I Ever Made and an episode of Guy’s Big Bites. The weekend resulted in a lot of delicious variations in the wonderful world of bread.
Friday night we decided to make an Italian themed dinner for a colleague of mine and her fiancé. We needed to go get ingredients for my homemade pesto and chicken pasta, bruschetta, garlic bread, and homemade cannolis. We decided this was a perfect opportunity to visit Lenoard Labriola’s Italian market. If you are needing ingredients for an Italian dish, this is the place to go. They have every kind of pasta type you could imagine. I did not make bread for this evening because they have fresh loaves of Italian bread that looked irresistible. Oh and by the way you must get some of their imported Pecorino Romano cheese, it is fabulous. The combination of fresh bread and perfectly aged cheese led to amazing bruschetta, which was made by brushing small slices of the bread with olive oil and lightly toasting them under the broiler. After the toasting I rubbed each piece with a fresh sliced clove of garlic, which add the perfect spice to the bread. Each slice was topped with fresh diced Roma tomatoes and fresh chopped basil. It was finished with a llight dusting of the imported cheese. The four of us ate the entire plate (before dinner).
Saturday morning we woke up and caught the end of the show The Best Thing I Ever Made (this show is guaranteed to make you hungry) and saw the chefs making from scratch, Dulce de Leche churro tots. These deep fried morsels of goodness are covered in cinnamon/sugar and are served with homemade Dulce de Leche. You need to take the time to try these stat!
The highlight of this dish is the homemade Dulce de Leche. The downside of this dish is the homemade Dulce de Leche. Homemade Dulce de Leche is super yummy-its buttery, creamy, sugary; however, it requires a lot of elbow grease. To make Dulce de Leche you have to stir sugar, milk, and baking soda, ALOT! It took over an hour for our ingredients to caramelize, Morgan and I did the stirring in shifts. The downside was that our shoulders were sore the next day; the upside is that we burned enough calories for at least one of the many churros we ate (The recipe is loaded with sugar and butter). I recommend saving the stirring for your teenage son or daughter if they have upset you that day-an effective punishment with a delicious outcome. Let me caution you that when the Dulce de Leche is made, you will want to eat it with a spoon-do so in moderation less you want to nap for the rest of the week. I decided to also make a semi-sweet chocolate ganache (made by melting chocolate with cream that is brought to a boil) to go with the dessert. Also, unless you are making these treats for a small army, you may want to cut the recipe in half. We made roughly 3 dozen churros, many of which had to be thrown out. They lose their crispy goodness after a few days, though they do reheat fairly well. We also had plenty of Dulce de Leche leftover so Morgan made chocolate chip caramel cookies tonight.
By Sunday we had topped bread, fried and dipped bread–so I guess all that was left was to stuff bread. I am big fan of Guy Fieri and he has an excellent Stromboli recipe that I wanted to try. The dough is very basic and easy to make just give yourself enough time to let it rise. I varied the recipe just a bit. I decided to use pepperoni, salami, and deli ham as the meats. For the cheeses I decided on mozzarella and Amish pepper cheese in lieu of pepper jack. The Amish pepper cheese is similar (Though I think its a little hotter). Its made with a white cheddar instead of Monterey jack, which gave the sandwich a really nice creaminess and a bit of spice.
I also added a tad bit more basil and a bit of sugar to the marinara sauce, which is very easy to make. The marinara is great left over for other dishes like pasta for lunch the next day.
A word of caution, the pepperoni is an oily meat. When baking the Stromboli the oil has a tendency to leak from the bread and can make the oven smokey. Or in my situation, it can make the smoke alarm go off. Luckily, the taste of the the Stromboli was not effected by this small mishap. I blame myself for overstuffing the Stromboli, but hey who doesn’t love meat and melted cheese? The Stromboli reheats very nicely and is a wonderful dish to add to the rotation.
I hope you are now very hungry, so go and indulge in the carby goodness that is bread, Atkins is overrated!