Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Variations on a theme--Peppercorn Quick Bread

Not that I don't love the Irish soda bread I've made in past years, but I wanted something a little different for Thanksgiving with my family this year. After a lot of searching, I found a great recipe that lent itself to a few different variations.

From when I was born until I was about fourteen, I spent at least two Sundays a month at my Nana's house. To this day, I can navigate directly there from I-95/Rte 128, though if you asked me to write directions down, I'd probably have to go to Google Maps. Anyway, Nana was a great cook. Sunday dinners were often turkey, but occasionally she made roast beef (which I have yet to be able to duplicate, darnit). Either way, there was mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.

Now Nana had a heavy hand with the black pepper, so when I found the recipe, I knew I had struck gold. Check out the ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • .75 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • .5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp black peppercorns, cracks (I crunched them a bit with a mortar and pestle. I really need to get one of these of my own and give the one I'm using back to my friend Vivian)
  • 1.5 tsp fresh rosemary
  • .75 cup peccorino romano cheese, grated or shredded
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of milk
  • .25 cup extra-virgin olive oil
I liked that it used olive oil instead of butter, as well as employing whole wheat flour, which gave it a nice chewy, but not off-putting texture. Don't ask me to eat whole-wheat pasta, for example, but I digress.

The instructions are simple:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8.5 x 4.5 loaf pan
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, salt, pepper, rosemary and cheese. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and olive oil. Pour your wet ingredients into the dry and stir to combine until it is evenly moist.
  3. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan for five minutes, then move to a rack to complete cooling.
My sweetie and my youngest cousin (she's in her teens) thought the pepper was a little heavy-handed. My aunt and uncle loved the pepperyness.

I made three of these. One per the above recipe. Another with rosemary, fresh sage (left over from the chicken marsala of a few weeks ago) and some dried thyme (no parsley, only my uncle and I got the joke), which is what got served at dinner. The third, I made with dried marjoram, just for something different. Everyone was eager to take the leftovers home, so I had to promise my sweetie I'd make another one. 

I did make a yeast bread a while back, that will be coming up in a future post. Additional plans include shrimp & grits and a chicken tikka marsala. I'm also due to make chili for one of my gaming groups. I hope three pounds feeds the lot of us.

Happy holidays whatever you're celebrating!

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good to me. I have heard of too much pepper as a concept but have not encountered it in real life.