Mincemeat Quick Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Splurge-Worthy Goodness: Mincemeat Quick Bread! Don’t look at me that way. I know what you’re thinking. “If this recipe has mincemeat in it, I’m not eating it.” But hold on a sec. There are plenty of foods with names that sound downright gross. Think about it: head cheese, tripe, mung beans, and blood sausage to name a few. I’m here to tell you mincemeat is a sweet and savory filling that basically contains dried fruits, citrus, spices, and brandy. Ahhh. Now I have your attention. This particular recipe has about 1/4 cup apricot brandy in it. Just know if you do choose to add brandy or rum to a jar of prepared mincemeat, be sure to allow it to marinate in the refrigerator at least 8 hours before using. Now you can understand why some people eat it straight out of the jar.

MINCEMEAT QUICK BREAD

Ingredients:

1 egg, room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon orange zest

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 cups prepared mincemeat pie filling (with 1/4 cup apricot brandy, optional)

2 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9”x5” loaf pan. Set aside. Combine egg, vegetable oil, orange zest, orange juice, and mincemeat pie filling. Stir until well blended. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring just until combined. Pour into prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Check loaf with a cake tester to make sure center is done. Remove from oven. Cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve.

Yeast Artisan Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Yeast Artisan Bread! There’s no doubt bread can be a family’s comfort food, even if you seldom bake it yourself. With more people setting up a home office or home schooling, suddenly bread-baking has turned into a thing. And if you own a bread machine, better yet. Dust it off and give it center stage on the quartz countertop in your gourmet kitchen. Baking bread is like therapy for the soul. We combine ingredients, knead dough, make decorative slits on top, and bake it to a rich golden color. From start to finish, it becomes a focused project. When the house begins to smell like the neighborhood corner bakery, everyone notices. It’s time to slice it up and slather on the butter.

YEAST ARTISAN BREAD

Ingredients:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 packet active yeast

Instructions:

Using a bread machine, add ingredients in the order listed. Always add the yeast last, creating a small indentation on the top of the dry ingredients. Pour yeast into indentation. Select the “Dough” setting. At the end of the cycle, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for one minute. Grease a bowl with olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about one hour. Cover bowl with a damp cloth. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Punch the dough down and knead for a few seconds. Form the dough into a ball and return to the bowl. Cover again and allow it to rise in a warm place 30 minutes longer. To bake in an iron skillet, preheat oven to 400°. Put the iron skillet in the oven while it is preheating. Place a roasting pan on the bottom shelf of the oven. Fill it with one inch of hot water. Using oven mitts, remove the hot skillet from the oven. Grease the inside of the skillet with olive oil. Sprinkle with one tablespoon cornmeal. Carefully transfer the puffed bread dough to the iron skillet. Dip a kitchen shears in hot water. Cut slits in the top of the dough. Sprinkle generously with water. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the loaf is a deep golden brown. When a cake tester is inserted in the center, it comes out clean. Remove the iron skillet from the oven. Immediately remove artisan bread to prevent over baking. Allow it to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before cutting.

Ramping Up Breakfast

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Elevated Edibles: Ramping Up Breakfast! For a hearty and satisfying way to jumpstart your morning, think outside the box with sautéed ramps. Prepared in minutes with hardly anytime at the stove, you’ll be serving up a “green” feast fit for a king. If you live in the country where farm fresh eggs are as plentiful as the next roadside produce stand, even better. Treat yourself to a scrumptious weekend meal on the back porch in true farmhouse style.

RAMPING UP BREAKFAST

Ingredients:

1/4 pound wild ramps

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

2 eggs

2 smoked sausage links

2 pieces artisan bread, toasted

Crushed oregano, for garnish

Instructions:

Wash thoroughly every crevice and leaf stem of each ramp. Cut off and discard bulb roots. Rinse again. Gently pat dry with paper towels. Set aside. Warm olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Transfer ramps to the skillet. Cook until tender and crispy, gently turning. After 10 minutes, divide ramps between two plates. Cook eggs according to personal preference. Add to each plate. Heat smoked sausage, slicing open to sear. Arrange on plates. Butter toast to complete each breakfast plate. Garnish ramps and eggs with crushed oregano. Serve immediately.

Tour of Italy in Greenfield, Indiana

Dining Outside the Home: Tour of Italy in Greenfield, Indiana! There’s something charming about an eatery located on the town square a few steps from the county courthouse. Inside the decor is Old World Italy with rustic brick walls dividing spacious seating for a romantic meal for two, weekend entertainment for a crowd, or outdoor dining on the patio. The wait staff is as friendly as family. If you’re lucky, the owner of Tour of Italy may step away from the alcove kitchen to twirl pizza dough into the air. With fresh ingredients, made-from-scratch garlic knots, and authentic Italian cuisine, it’s difficult to choose just one item. Order enough to share and take home the rest. Problem solved.

Garlic Bulbs Roasted

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Table Food: Garlic Bulbs Roasted! Do you like the smell of garlic? Do you find it sweet, alluring, pleasant, pungent, or exciting? If garlic is your friend, get ready for a road trip you will long remember. Roasted garlic cloves could make you feel extra special. Especially slathered across a slice of crusty artisan bread. When garlic bulbs are slow-roasted in the oven, they become soft, caramelized, and almost sweet. The tantalizing aroma will practically drive you crazy. As you wait with anticipation, don’t be surprised if you find your mouth watering just a bit. Be patient. Once done, the tender golden cloves collapse and spread like butter. It is definitely worth the time spent in expectation.

GARLIC BULBS ROASTED

Ingredients:

3 garlic bulbs

3 teaspoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/8 teaspoon rosemary leaves

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Peel away outside loose layers. Slice 1/4 off the top of each garlic bulb to expose the cloves. Place cut side up on a sheet of foil. Drizzle olive oil over each. Season with sea salt, cracked black pepper, and rosemary leaves. Fold foil overtop the garlic, and place in an ovenproof dish. Roast for 45 minutes. Cloves will begin to soften and turn golden in color. Remove from oven. Cool slightly. Gently squeeze the cloves to push them out or use a pointed butter knife. Spread mashed garlic on crusty artisan breads and crackers.

Quinoa Cheese Melt

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Clean Eating: Quinoa Cheese Melt! Few things can take the place of the classic grilled cheese sandwich, in my opinion. Yet, in a world of imagination, anything goes. As long as the bread is crispy with a satisfying crunch, be inventive. Think about multigrain, brioche, sourdough, bagel, or baguette. Once that decision is made, take a look at the cheese options: cheddar, American, gouda, provolone, gruyère, or Swiss. Sometimes a mixture is the perfect choice. Layering extras can be just as mind boggling. Do you choose bacon or beef? Lettuce or sprouts? Tomatoes or onions? I can see your eyes darting in several different directions casting a puzzled look on your face. So the next time someone asks, “Should we have grilled cheese?”, simply throw your arms up in the air and say, “Sure! It’s easy for you to say!”

QUINOA CHEESE MELT

Ingredients:

2 slices quinoa multigrain bread

2-3 tablespoons butter

4 slices American cheese

2 slices thick applewood smoked bacon, cooked

1 tomato, sliced

1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts

Instructions:

Preheat skillet over medium heat. Butter one side of quinoa multigrain bread. Place butter side down onto skillet bottom. Add four slices American cheese, stacked two high, to cover surface of bread. Arrange cooked bacon over all. Butter a second slice of quinoa multigrain bread on one side. Place butter side up on top of sandwich. Grill until lightly browned, then flip over. Continue grilling until cheese is melted. Remove to a plate. Stuff with sliced tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts. Cut in half. Serve immediately.

Vegetarian Bread ‘n Butter Pudding

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: Vegetarian Bread ‘n Butter Pudding! If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. One of the privileges of being part of the blogosphere is benefiting from the vast friendships beyond my little corner of the world. Not only is it a creative outlet for expressing my love of food, it also challenges me to stretch my palate and try new things. Today’s recipe comes from Corrie, a Brit, who thrives on a vegetarian diet. She has a fabulous blog entitled http://corriesrabbitfood.com where food looks so amazing it makes you forget about being a meat-lover. To clear up any confusion, “bread pudding” is more commonly known as a dessert. But “bread and butter pudding” is made by buttering the bread before adding any liquid. Now you see the difference, which is why this makes a fabulous breakfast dish. Are you ready to eat more? Then let’s get started.

VEGETARIAN BREAD ‘N BUTTER PUDDING

Ingredients:

1/2 loaf baguette bread, sliced

4 tablespoons butter, softened

1/2 cup red onion, sliced

3 gloves garlic, sliced

1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

1/3 cup gruyère cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

3 eggs

1 cup skim milk

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon basil

1/8 teaspoon marjoram

1/8 teaspoon oregano

2 tablespoons cheddar cheese, shredded

Thyme sprigs, for garnish

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Butter a 5”x7” baking dish with softened butter. Set aside. Lightly butter both sides of a baguette slice, then place in the baking dish. Repeat until all pieces of baguette are buttered. When placing them in the baking dish, arrange in a zigzag pattern. This leaves room for the spaces to be filled in with ingredients. Next evenly divide the red onion slices and garlic pieces between the bread. Generously sprinkle the entire loaf with shredded parmesan, gruyère, and 2 tablespoons of cheddar cheese, with attention given to lightly packing the cheese in areas where spaces exist. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, skim milk, seasoned salt, basil, marjoram, and oregano. Slowly pour over the pudding, soaking each slice of bread. Top with remaining 2 tablespoons of shredded cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 25-30, or until set Remove from oven. Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs. Serve warm.

No Yeast Beer Bread

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Talking Points: No Yeast Beer Bread! Never in my wildest dream did I ever realize there would be a shortage of all-purpose flour and yeast. Yet, the grocery store shelves were bare. I don’t know if it had anything to do with panic-buying during the coronavirus quarantine or if people were baking up a storm in isolation. Homemade bread is a comfort food, after all. Kneading dough can be a distraction from stay-at-home kids and social media rants. Plus the incredible aroma of bakery bread is soothing and rewarding. So, the obvious answer was to go to the fridge and open a can of beer. Beer acts as a leavening agent, as long as baking powder is included in the recipe. For those who wonder, the alcohol does burn out and evaporate. Now the results are a more dense and heavy bread with a thicker crust, just so you know. Personally, I like the crunchiness of toast better that way. Then again, it could be the result of “bathing” it in butter before baking. Let’s jam with beer bread!

NO YEAST BEER BREAD

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon sea salt

12-ounces beer, room temperature

1/4 cup butter, melted

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375°. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and sea salt. Stir until mixed. Add the beer, stirring until the dough forms. Set aside. Warm the butter in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Brush the parchment paper on bottom and sides of the loaf pan. Spoon the dough into the buttered loaf pan. The dough will have a rustic appearance. Brush the remaining butter evenly over the top of the dough. Bake for 50 minutes or until a tester comes out clean. The bread will be a golden brown. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Invert pan to remove the beer bread. Slice and serve.