Buttermilk Bread Loaf

Buttermilk Bread Loaf

If you’re anything like me, you have a few ingredients in your fridge that dictate your menu. As in, if I don’t use this within the next day or so, I’ll have to throw it out. Like wilting spinach or proteins that you may have prematurely defrosted.

For me, that often occurs with produce or dairy items—and almost always, buttermilk. Sure, some would say, “Why don’t you just freeze it?” or “Mix some whole milk with lemon juice instead of buying buttermilk?”. Now the latter would make sense if I ever had whole milk in the fridge (other than when I bake or make ice creams) and freezing an upwards of 2+ cups of buttermilk seems odd to me.

Buttermilk Bread Loaf

So when I do find myself with a quart of buttermilk, I’ll deter to my trusted favorite recipes that call for it. Such as Buttermilk Fried Chicken, Red Velvet Banana Pancakes, Blackberry Muffins, or Cheddar Cheese Biscuits.

And of course, this wonderfully quick and easy Buttermilk Bread Loaf. This is one of my go-to recipes for loaf bread as it’s no knead and doesn’t require anytime to bloom the yeast. Sure, it does take a couple of minutes to warm up the buttermilk but other than that, your stand mixer does all the work. And you don’t even need the dough hook!

It’s quite a forgiving dough–perfect for those who are freaked out about yeast recipes. But the end results in a wonderful exterior crust and light interior crumb. Plus, the buttermilk gives a slight tang to the bread.

Start to finish, you’ll have fresh bread in less than 1.5 hours–and that includes proofing time! Can’t beat that!

Recipe from Elinor Klivans via Leite’s Culinara

Caprese Sandwiches with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

Caprese Sandwiches

I recently had a two week stint gorging myself on fresh, sweet, summer heirloom tomatoes. I just couldn’t help it–DELICIOUS and so colorful!

I had to take advantage of the few short weeks left of summer when these beauties are best here in San Diego and enjoyed them in salads, over pizzas, as a condiment (pico de gallo), as a light side dish and of course– in sandwiches.

Caprese Sandwiches

One of my fav go-to “salads” is Insalata Caprese which usually consists of tomato slices, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and olive oil. I also like to serve them as appetizers by making little caprese skewers and use sweet grape tomatoes instead of tomato slices.

Caprese Sandwiches

For a light lunch, I grabbed a few heirlooms I had picked up earlier that morning to make Caprese Sandwiches. These sammies have all of the traditional fixins’ of Insalata Caprese with the addition of a rich and thick reduction of balsamic vinegar. The reduction adds a light sweetness and acidity to the sandwich which pairs so well with the cool tomatoes, velvety mozzarella and floral basil.

Total winner and can be whipped up Lickety- Split…..

In a jiffy……

In a blink of the eye……

In the speed of light…..

In no time flat……

……… Really fast. You get the point.

Did I mention these would be FAB for picnics?

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Caprese Sandwiches with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 pinches sugar
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 ciabatta rolls, toasted (or bread of your choice)
8-10 fresh whole basil leaves, washed and dried
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
sea salt or kosher salt

In a small sauce pan, add the vinegar, sugar and chili flakes. On medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Continue stirring and cooking until the liquids have reduced by half and take on the a thick, syrup consistency. Be sure to watch the reduction closely as it can burn quickly. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

Slice each of the toasted rolls in half. Place half of the basil leaves on the bottom piece of bread and top with a few slices of cheese. Drizzle some of the balsamic vinegar reduction over the mozzarella and top with slices of tomato. Lightly sprinkle sea salt over the tomatoes and place the other 1/2 of the roll on top. Enjoy!

My Golden Ticket to Kings Hawaiian

KH Spreads Aloha

I was always so envious of that Charlie.

Don’t get me wrong–he totally deserved it but to get FULL access to Willy Wonka’s Factory?! C’mon Now! How must have that felt? What did he do? What amazing aromas did he smell?

And then out of the blue, I got my Golden Ticket…….to the AMAZING Kings Hawaiian in Torrance, California. JACKPOT!!

KH Spreads Aloha

In 1950, Robert Taira, opened up a bakery in Hilo, Hawai’i featuring delicious baked goods inspired from his neighbor’s ONO Portuguese bread. After much determination and ambition, Kings Hawaiian has not only become the number one dinner roll in the country but also offers delicious local grindz and pastries.

So you can imagine my utter glee when I accepted their invitation to participate in their first EVER public tour!!!! Chhheeeee-Hoooooo!!

KH Spreads Aloha

After being warmly greeted with fresh floral leis, POG juice and fresh fruit, we were given an Aloha from Kings Hawaiian’s CEO, Mark Taira. Mark and the ‘Ohana, gave us an overview of the history of KH and where the organization was headed. And before the bread comatose kicks in, let me say, that the KH organization truly exudes the spirit of Aloha.

I have had the fortunate privilege to spend some time in Hilo. And unlike it’s hustle-bustle sister-city of Honolulu, Hilo is a little slower paced and focuses on communal-’ohana living. And I’m proud to say that the organization of Kings Hawaiian exudes every part of that.

KH Spreads Aloha

We were then privy to a first hand tour of the factory and OH….MY…GAWD.

Words CANNOT begin to describe the delicious aromas that filled ALL of my senses. It took EVERY ounce of will power for me to not reach over the belts and grab a roll.

KH Spreads Aloha

And lucky for us at the end of our factory tour, our group was able to sample fresh rolls that were steaming HOT right out of the ovens, pulled from the conveyer belts, and into my mouth. Good grief! Did I mention that we slathered them with butter?!

At that point, I had died and gone to heaven.

KH Spreads Aloha

We were then escorted to an amazing luncheon featuring local food trucks who used King Hawaiian products in their dishes. SERIOUSLY!?!

Lobsta Truck, Kogi BBQ, Ludo Truck, Buttermilk Truck and ONO grindz from Kings Hawaiian! Everything was so flipping ONO-LICIOUS that my only question was–Why didn’t someone tell me to wear elastic waistband pants?!?

Everything I tasted hit a note that made me do a Happy Dance.

At the end of the day, I walked away with the following:

  • What makes Kings Hawaiian stand out from the rest is their impeccable quality and TRUE Aloha Spirit;
  • Their products taste FANTASTIC with EVERYTHING;
  • Never doubt that a business model of ‘Ohana can create an AMAZING organization.

KH Spreads Aloha

Mahalo nui loa Kings Hawaiian for the wonderful day and memorable experience! Your spirit has truly inspired me.

Much, MUCH Alohas,

ps. And to the ROCKIN’ bloggers, food writers, and food lovers I met that day—let’s K.I.T.!!!

pps. Stay tuned as some RAD recipes featuring Kings Hawaiian bread will soon to follow!

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

I’m Bananas…..

For Nutella.

Shocking— I know.

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

So why not add Nutella to Banana Bread? Seemed like a Win-Nguyen Situation to me.

And it sure was :)

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Nutella Swirled Banana Bread
Makes one 9-inch loaf

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe, soft, darkly speckled large bananas, mashed well
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for the pan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons Nutella

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. Dust the pan with flour, tapping out the excess.

Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Mix the mashed bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter, and vanilla with a wooden spoon in a medium bowl. Lightly fold the banana mixture into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula until just combined and the batter looks thick and chunky. Spoon 1/2 the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Spread 1/2 the Nutella on top and lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not over mix. Spoon the rest of the batter on top and repeat with Nutella swirls.

Bake until the loaf is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. (The bread can be wrapped with plastic wrap and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days.)

Slightly adapted from Cooks Illustrated

American Sandwich Bread

American Sandwich Bread

THIS is what dreams are made of.

Well…..at least MY “carb loving dreams”.

American Sandwich Bread

Inspired to bake sliced bread for my lunchtime sandwiches, I took to Baking Illustrated for their American Sandwich Bread recipe.

The dough came together quite easy and was an absolute dream—beautifully silky and smooth. You do however, need a bit of patience when it comes to mixing the dough but just let your stand mixer do the work for you.

Quick tip: Sometimes when I have my mixer going for a long time, the bowl can get stuck in the stand with all that whirling going on. To prevent that from happening, cover the bottom of your metal mixing bowl with a little bit of cooking spray before twisting it onto the mixing stand.

American Sandwich Bread

The recipe calls from a 9-inch loaf pan but unfortunately my largest metal loaf pan is only 7 inches. I was a bit nervous to see how my glass pan would work out but luckily, it came out quite good. Though note to self: Keep my eyes open for 9-inch metal loaf pans on sale :)

American Sandwich Bread

Baking Illustrated did not lead me astray with this recipe as the bread was really delicious. The pan of water in the oven helped create a wonderful crust for the loaf and the crumb was light and slightly spongy. Not to mention that it made my home smell amazing and the loaf of bread was quite stunning if I do say so myself. In fact, when I brought my turkey sammy in for lunch (using the bread of course), my coworkers wouldn’t believe me that I had baked the bread! What naysayers!

But one thing is for sure, with bread so delicious and easy, there really is no need for me to buy my once beloved supermarket-sliced-bread again :)

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American Sandwich Bread

Ingredients:

3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 cup warm whole milk (about 110°)
1/3 cup warm water (about 110°)
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp. honey
1 envelope (about 2 ¼ tsp.) instant yeast

Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position and heat the oven to 200°.  Once the oven temperature reaches 200°, maintain the heat for 10 minutes, then turn off the oven.

Mix 3 ½ cups of the flour and the salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook.  Mix the milk, water, butter, honey and yeast in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup.  Turn the machine to low and slowly add the liquid.  When the dough comes together, increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is smooth and satiny, stopping the machine two or three times to scrape dough from the hook, if necessary, about 10 minutes.  (After 5 minutes of kneading, if the dough is still sticking to the sides of the bowl, add flour 1 tablespoon at a time and up to ¼ cup total, until the dough is no longer sticky.)  Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead to form a smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

Place the dough in a very lightly oiled large bowl, rubbing the dough around the bowl to coat lightly.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the warmed oven until the dough has doubled in size, about 40-50 minutes.

On a floured work surface, gently press the dough into a rectangle 1 inch thick and no longer than 9 inches.  With a long side facing you, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself.  Turn the dough seam-side up and pinch it closed.  Place the dough seam-side down in a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan.  Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in a warm spot until the dough almost doubles in size, 20-30 minutes.

Keep one oven rack at the lowest position and place the other at the middle position and heat the oven to 350°.  Place an empty baking pan on the bottom rack.  Bring two cups of water to boil in a small saucepan.  Pour the boiling water into the empty pan on the bottom rack and set the loaf onto the middle rack.  Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted at an angle from the short end just above the pan rim into the center of the loaf reads 195°, 40-50 minutes.  Remove the bread from the pan, transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.  Slice and serve.

From Baking Illustrated

Peter Reinhart’s Rich Man’s Brioche

Peter Reinhart's Rich Man's Brioche

One pound of butter is in this brioche.

Yep. You read correctly. One POUND!

And worth every calorie.

Peter Reinhart's Rich Man's Brioche

With that in mind, it’s no wonder why Peter Reinhart named this the Rich Man’s Brioche in  The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Moist and quite frankly, downright buttery. Did I mention, 1 POUND of butter?? :)

With the family together last weekend, I was inspired to bake up some brioche for a decadent morning bite. For the sponge and proofing time, you need to get this project started early on—in my case, the night before. We didn’t’ have those cute fluted brioche molds on hand and resorted to baking 2 loaves with the dough instead. Per my sis’ suggestion, I formed the brioche into 4 “logs” per pan to make “pull apart loaves”. You can find the recipe here.

Peter Reinhart's Rich Man's Brioche

The brioche came out a lovely color with a great crust and beautiful crumb. However next time, I think I’ll add an additional tablespoon of granulated sugar into the dough for just a tad more sweetness. Serve warm with a bit of preserves (homemade olallieberry in our case) and a steaming cup of joe and you’ll be in a very happy place!

 

And stop by on Monday to check out our birthday celebration for a very special little gal. :)

Bruschetta with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese

Bruschetta with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese

For a good chunk of my life, I didn’t like tomatoes.

I thought they were mealy and rather “bleh” in flavor. I’d pick them out of salads, burgers, well….pretty much out of everything.

And you know what the problem was? For the first 20+ years of my life, I was eating BAD tomatoes!

Because when you take a bite out of a gorgeous tomato at its peak in the season, it’s absolutely delicious! They’re sweet and juicy with the right balance of acidity. And last summer, I even found myself growing the most beautiful Early Girl Tomatoes via our Topsy Turvy. (For the record, the Topsy Turvy is awesome!)

Needless to say, I was missing out for so many years!

 

 

Bruschetta with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese

One of my favorite ways to enjoy fresh tomatoes are in Bruschetta. The simplicity of ingredients paired with the herbaceous basil  really highlights the true flavor of the tomato. On its own, it’s quite fabulous but I decided to add a spin by throwing in some smoked mozzarella cheese I stumbled on at my local specialty market. It was perfect!

And on warm summer nights like we’ve been having, I could eat Bruschetta every day! Mom would be proud that I’m eating my veggies :)

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Bruschetta with Smoked Mozzarella Cheese
Serves 4 as an Appetizer or 2 for a Light Meal

Ingredients:

1½ Cups Tomatoes, diced
½ Cup Smoked Mozzarella Cheese, cubed
¼ Cup Fresh Basil, leaves torn
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced or grated
1 Tablespoon Good Quality Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Black Pepper

In a bowl, mix together the tomatoes, cheese, basil, garlic, vinegar, and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings accordingly. Serve with your choice of flat bread or toasted baguettes.