Did you catch the awesome deal on Amazon last week? Two of Dorie Greenspan’s books, Baking and Around My French Table, for $6! As soon as David Lebovitz posted it, I snapped up two sets of books: one for me, one for future gifting. And posted it to my Facebook page, whereupon some of you lovely people snapped up your own copies. This is what social media is all about: $3 cookbooks! (OK. Not really. But still: a nice perk.) Astonishing as two big, fat, fabulous cookbooks are for the low, low price of $6, even more astonishing is that they arrived overnight. By Friday afternoon all 30 lbs of cookbook joy were crowding my kitchen counter; by Saturday morning I was paging through Around My French Table, coffe and toast to hand, making notes and gathering ideas.
I’ll tell you something about me: I almost never shop specifically for a recipe. Eating locally, I think you just get out of the habit: farmer’s markets are typically open for only a brief spell once a week (mine is Saturdays from 9 am – 1 pm), so you get into the habit of buying a lot of staples, picking up whatever looks fresh and tasty, and making meals of it. And while I do buy non-local items at my local organic market (citrus, olive oil, coffee, chocolate) it simply doesn’t occur to me to cook out of season. So, while I’m intrigued by Dorie’s version of tzatziki, for instance, cucumbers won’t be here for many moons. That recipe gets filed away in the back of my mind untill the warm, sunny day in July when the first cukes show up at the market. Cooking this way, I end up doing a lot of adapting of published recipes, using what is on hand and seasonal and a lot of mental filing away, for the next time I see cucumbers, or lentils (for Dorie’s orange-scented lentil soup) or strawberries (for strawberry and goat cheese tartine).
When I flipped to the savory cheese and chive bread recipe, I knew I had a winner: I had flour, I had milk and eggs, I had cheddar. I had a fistful of late summer chives in the freezer, just waiting for their moment to shine. There were some ludicrously spendy pine nuts lurking in there too. Score! I made some changes (mais, oui), including baking the bread in two smaller pans, adding some chile, mixing it up in the cheese department. But, despite my meddling, the bread came out wonderfully: moist, cheesy, savory, toothsome. Delightful. In fact, I have the second loaf in the freezer: I think I’m going to call it “lunch.”
- 1 cup (5 oz) all-purpose flour, or whole white wheat flour
- 3/4 cup (3 and 1/2 oz) whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp aleppo pepper flakes (or substitute red pepper flakes, or a scant 1/4 tsp ground cayenne)
- 3 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup milk, at room temperature (I used whole goat’s milk)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 6 oz cheddar cheese, divided (4 oz, grated; 2 oz cut into tiny cubes)
- 1/2 cup minced fresh chives (I used frozen)
- 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 6″ X 3″ loaf pans or a single 8″ X 4 and 1/2″ pan.
- In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt and aleppo pepper. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs hard for 1 minute, until foamy. Whisk in milk and olive oil. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and fold together 3 or 4 times; just enough to get most of the flour wet. Add in cheese, chives and pine nuts: mix until blended, taking care not to overmix.
- Spoon the thick batter into pans (in the small loaf pans, it came within 1/4-inch of the top). Tap the pans on the counter to settle batter and smooth the top. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 35 – 45 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack, de-pan, and serve.
- Try using a mix of flours: whole wheat, spelt, rye.
- I used a mix of three cheddars: an organic raw goat’s milk cheddar from Vermont, a Kerry Gold aged cheddar from Ireland, and a local hard, aged cheddar from Sprout Creek (with a texture more like parmesan). Any firm grating cheese will do; Dorie suggests Gruyere, Comte and Emmenthal.
- Substitute any fresh herb for the chives; parsley, thyme, summer savory and oregano seem nice choices. I would dial back the amount on strong herbs like sage or rosemary.
- Substitute walnuts, pecans, dried cranberries or apples for the pine nuts.
- The aleppo pepper definitely imparts a kick: for a bread without the heat, substitute 1/4 tsp of ground white or black pepper.
At room temperature, wrapped in a clean tea towel, for up to 2 days. Alternatively frozen, then reheated in a 350 degree F oven for about 15 minutes.