aged cheddar, brown bread + spiced tomato chutney

aged cheddar, brown bread + spiced tomato chutney

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I have a memory of eating a cheese sandwich on the patio at Ballymaloe, the famed Irish country house and restaurant, on an August day many years ago. William and I were staying at Ballymaloe over the bank holiday weekend while working in Ireland that summer and it was a trip we saved up the bulk of our travel budget to experience. We took the bus to get there and without a car and miles from any town, lunch was kind of an interesting affair. The day I ate my cheese sandwich, lunch was not being served. But they knew we were young and hungry twenty-somethings and the place is known for service beyond this world, so we were offered a choice of a couple sandwiches. Even then I wasn’t overly fond of meaty meals and though none of the options sounded particularly like what I was craving, I opted for cheese. I expected something of the sort of cheese sandwich we might be served in America, either with processed cheese or a sandwich of the grilled affair.

 

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What came from the kitchen was neither. It was homemade brown bread covered in big, thick slices of Irish farmhouse cheddar, the kind that’s been aged for quite some time. I stared at the sandwich, at first thinking to myself, there is no way I need to or am going to eat that much cheese. Hah. Once I began I realized how good it was and before I knew it I was polishing off the plate, satisfied and completely guilt free. I’ve thought about that cheese sandwich often over the years, not particularly desiring to reinvent it again but thinking instead how it encapsulated that perfect weekend in which we had no plans beyond how to get there and no cares other than exploring the farm, the cookery school gardens, and the surrounding countryside with the wheat and oats ready to harvest and a few combines out doing so. We don’t have a single picture of that weekend because we deliberately opted to truly live in the experience instead. It was my first time in the countryside of County Cork and even though I have a deep fondness for Ireland, I really felt at home, truly like there must be history here in the far southwest countryside and rolling hills. Either that, or my foodie nose sniffed out the real farm to fork food-centric part of the country and just wanted to stay in it forever.

 

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Since then, too, cheddar hasn’t been in my diet and neither has that sort of brown bread. Truly, travel in general has changed a lot for me since those days when I didn’t worry about food allergies and could eat exactly what I was craving without making someone else sacrifice their own food desires. I didn’t have any tomato chutney during that Ballymaloe weekend but their tomato chutney business began before the restaurant and guest house did and I came home with a jar of their famous recipe. I hadn’t given tomato chutney a thought since until a quick weekend in Seattle this past June. I always travel with at least my breakfast these days but William woke up a little later than I and wanted to go out for a quick brunch. We somehow got in to Morsel, a popular Ballard breakfast spot, before the line got too long. While I sat at a little table in front of their biscuit case, I noticed their tomato jam was a staple and seemed to be quite popular. Even though I only had a pot of tea at Morsel, I was reminded again of a time when traveling and eating nice bread and cheese and tomato jam because it sounded good was second nature.

I was also reminded that travel memories are what we make of them and though food is an intricate part of those memories and I love getting inspired to make new things because of travel, the memories really aren’t about the food. They are about the experience, the atmosphere, the kind way a stranger becomes a connection, the quiet and deep catch-up chat in a packed coffee house on a Saturday morning, the way we’re put at ease by a conversation in the library after dinner, the thrill of riding rickety bikes up quiet country lanes with no one else around save a few cows, and the deep satisfaction of sitting in the sun on the patio of a house that has more years of history than any building in this country, thinking of absolutely nothing other than how perfect the moment at hand actually is.

 

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Aged Cheddar, Brown Bread + Spiced Tomato Chutney

The Recipe Redux theme this month is meals inspired by our travels. This one has been a long time coming but is inspired by that weekend at Ballymaloe, by a lunch platter/plowman’s lunch recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, and by that little tea and brunch at Morsel in Seattle. I’ve been scheming up ways to make really nice bread and vegan cheese into a meal for a while now. When I initially began eating gluten and dairy-free, I avoided all processed foods–like cheese and gluten-free bread–as much as possible. Since then, the offerings have much improved and there are reasonable substitutes without questionable ingredients–especially when it comes to cheese. I used Vtopian Aged Cheddar and much to my surprise, the flavor was very much in line with a nice farmhouse cheddar. As you can see from the pictures, it has a cashew base and so becomes quite spreadable when warm. If you’re not adverse to cow’s milk cheddar, William’s current favorite is Kerrygold Reserve.

For the meal to serve 2:

nice aged cheddar of choice, thickly sliced

2-4 thick slices bread

tomato chutney

a little side salad for balance, optional

 

Tomato Chutney, makes 4 cups, adapted from Ard Bia Cookbook

3 cloves

1/2 a cinnamon stick

1 star anise

1 bay leaf

a good pinch of ground cardamom

1 tsp. canola oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbs. brown mustard seeds

1 quart canned tomatoes (or 2 14-oz. cans)

1/4 cup currants

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar

salt and pepper to taste

  • In a hot pan, toast the cloves, cinnamon, bay leaf, and star anise until they start to release their aromas. Then remove and wrap them in either cheesecloth or put in a tea ball.
  • In a large pot, heat the oil and saute the onion and ginger until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and mustard seeds and cook for another minute or so.
  • Add the tomatoes, the spice parcel, the cardamom, and cook uncovered over a gentle simmer for about 45 minutes. Then add the currants, raisins, vinegar, and sugar.
  • Cook for an additional 45 minutes until it has thickened up and and most of the liquid has cooked off.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper, remove the whole spices, and then cool before transferring to a jar.

 

Gluten-Free Struan Bread, (here’s a quick history of struan bread)

2 Tbs. chia seeds

1/2 cup water

1 cup teff or millet flour

1 cup tapioca flour

1/2 cup leftover cooked grain such as brown rice, oats, or millet

1/4 cup amaranth or quinoa flour

1/4 cup almond meal

1/4 cup ground flax seed

1 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. xanthan gum

1 1/2 tsp. yeast

3/4-1 cup water

2 Tbs. canola oil

2 Tbs. maple syrup

  • Soak the chia seeds in 1/2 cup water for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare an 8 1/2 x 4-inch loaf pan by either lining parchment or rubbing the bottom and sides with oil and then flour.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, almond meal, flax, salt, and xanthan gum. Set aside.
  • In a liquid measuring cup, dissolve the yeast in 3/4 cup of warm water. Allow the yeast to begin to foam and then add the oil and syrup. Mix the yeast mixture into the chia mixture and make sure the chia seeds have no lumps in them, and then add the liquids to the dry mixture. With a wooden spoon, mix well, just until the dough is soft and holding together. It will be fairly wet. If it seems more like a drier dough that can be picked up in the hands, add additional water so it is looser.
  • Pour the mixture into the loaf pan, and smooth the top. Take a serrated knife and score a line running the length of the loaf, just off the center. Then place it in the oven and turn down the temperature to 350 degrees F.
  • Bake for one hour at that temperature and then turn down the oven to 300 degrees F. Bake for an additional 40 to 60 minutes.

Turkey Sandwich with Carrots, Kale and Dukkah

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Back when I ate gluten and cheese, sandwiches made their way into my life every day. Sometimes more than once. I don’t mean I ate a normal PB&J or ham and cheese. Instead, a cheesey-gooey Tex-Mex, PB & Apricot-Apple with Spinach, Curry Chicken & Apple, Roasted Beets, Hummus & Turkey, or Cranberry Pear Peanut Butter spanned the norm of my sandwich creations. I was obsessed with perfecting my homemade whole wheat bread recipe, and I frequently brought loaves home from my bakery job. My then-roommates regularly commented that, for sandwiches, mine were abnormallybeautiful. With a roomate that worked at a bakery gig, they ate their fair share as well.

Fast forward a few years and I rarely eat a sandwich. If I hadn’t had to forego the gluten, it is safe to say they never would have escaped from my daily ritual!

It just so happens that a dear friend gifted an awesome cookbook to me last year and periodically, when I need a homemade bread and sandwich fix, I bake up a loaf. One such baking episode and a haphazard collection of lonely ingredients in the fridge resulted in this amazing combination for lunch.

In a hurry to get out the door one morning, I pilfered through, came up with kale, carrots and the last bit of sliced turkey. I threw the kale and carrots in a dish and tossed in dukkah for good measure, spread the mustard on the turkey, and packed the bread separately.

Later, I put the whole-shebang together at work.  Holy-moly, I couldn’t believe my tastebuds! We are back in the sandwich-making business.

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First, start with good bread. Make it yourself. Or find a nice bakery. Barter with your neighbor. Please, don’t waste your time with store-bought sliced bread.

 

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Then, smear and sprinkle on a thin layer of dijon mustard and dukkah spice mixture to each slice.

 

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Lay down a thickish layer of the best turkey you can find.

 

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Pile on equal parts chopped kale and shredded carrots.

 

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Carefully sandwich the two pieces of bread together. Slice it in half and eat.

 

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When finished, I completely condone licking your plate clean. :)

 

Turkey Sandwich with Carrots, Kale and Dukkah, makes 1
 
Dukkah is an Egyptian spice mixture with coriander, cumin, and sesame seeds shining through. There are countless recipes for it across the interwebs. I used Deborah Madison’s recipe from Vegetable Literacy. You can also purchase the mixture at Trader Joe’s or other well-stocked grocery stores. 
 
2 slices bread of your choice
dijon mustard
1-2 tsp. Dukkah
2-3 oz. low-sodium deli or leftover roasted turkey
1/2 large carr0t, shredded
1/2-1 cup shredded kale
 

 

 

 

Caramelized Onion, Kale, Squash & Bacon Pizza

Contrary to how much cured pork is on this blog, our meals are often light on meaty things. Bacon and its relatives do happen to show up in special dishes though, and this pizza, it is super special. The Recipe Redux folks asked us to share a healthy pizza recipe that we can all look forward to after a long week…or a long day. This gluten and dairy-free pizza is definitely worth coming home to.

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Two years ago, I eliminated gluten. It was not as rough of transition as I had anticipated, except for pizza. Pizza has always been among my top three favorite foods, and W can eat it at least twice per week, indefinitely. We had an amazing pizza crust recipe, one that we had trialed and tailored so many times that it was loved more than any other pizza crust at even our favorite restaurants. It just so happens to contain a lot of wheat flour. When I received those test results back in January of 2012, and had cleaned out the cupboards and brought in new gluten-free flours, I quickly set to trying an array of pizza crust recipes. None of them were even remotely appetizing. They were difficult to roll, sticky, crunchy, and tasted like crackers. There was none of that bready texture that we wanted. Worse, we couldn’t find a better crust at any restaurant, even ones claiming to have an amazing gluten-free option!

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Then came months of still not feeling well, and the frustrating news that dairy was  a culprit too. Feeling defeated, I gave up on pizza for a while.

No longer. A few more months of experimentation paid off. We ate a lot of bad pizza in the process, but finally created the crust. And cheese? We have come to realize that when good toppings are loaded on, the cheese isn’t missed.

Really.

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Now let’s talk about these toppings. This pizza involves acorn squash, lacinato kale, caramelized onions, honey, and a touch of bacon. It’s one of my favorite combinations. The caramelized onion forms an exquisite base in lieu of sauce, and with the slightly salty kale, squash and bacon, and with that drizzle of honey, the combination of sweet and salty creates a pizza that leaves us no longer missing the gluten and cheese.

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Caramelized Onion, Kale, Squash & Bacon Pizza, (crust adapted from Kumquat)
A note about the crust: The ingredients below make enough for two 10-12″ crusts. Each pizza usually serves two to three. You can refrigerate the dough for the second crust up to two days. Due to the differences in the flours, I like to weigh them with a kitchen scale to get an accurate ratio of 70 percent whole grains and 30 percent starches. I’ve then put those weights into cups so it will be easier to measure without a scale, but if in doubt, I’d use a “short measurement,” rather than an overflowing cup.
  
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 a bunch of lacinato kale, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt
1/2 of an acorn squash, deseeded and chopped
3 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and diced
1-2 Tbs. honey
 
1 1/2 Tbs. golden flax seed, ground
3 Tbs. hot water
40 grams (a short 1/2 cup) garbanzo & fava bean flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) brown rice flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) sorghum flour
80 grams (3/4 cup) millet flour
40 grams (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. tapioca starch
40 grams (1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. arrowroot starch
40 grams (1/4 cup) potato starch
2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
~2 Tbs. olive oil, separated
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/3 cup warm water, divided
Cornmeal
 
For the caramelized onion:
In a large saute pan, pour in olive oil and heat to medium high. Add onions and allow to cook until they are becoming soft. Add a good pinch of salt and turn down to medium, covered. Stir occasionally and turn down again, if they are cooking too high. They will take 30-45 minutes to become golden and soft, and caramelized. Remove from pan and set aside.
 
For the kale:
In the same pan as the onion was cooked in, add a small drizzle of olive oil and pour in the chopped kale. Add a good pinch of salt and cook just until slightly wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.
 
For the squash: 
In the same pan as the onion and kale, add 1 Tbs. olive oil and squash. Cook over medium heat, just until the squash begins to soften slightly. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
 
For the pizza dough:
1.Combine flax seeds and 3 tablespoons very hot water in a small bowl until a slurry is formed; set aside.
2. Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Combine yeast, 1 Tbs. olive oil, sugar and 1/2 cup warm water in a medium bowl or measuring cup. Allow to rest for 3 minutes for yeast to activate. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture; mix for 1 minute. Add flax seed slurry to the dough and a portion of the remaining water; mix until the dough comes together in a ball. If it is too dry, add enough water to for a tender, pliable dough. Set aside to rest for 1 hour.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Separate the dough into two equal portions. Sprinkle your pizza stone or baking sheet with a light sprinkling of cornmeal. Roll one of the dough portions out to desired thickness directly on a pizza stone or baking sheet. 
4. Sprinkle the dough evenly with caramelized onion, followed by squash, then kale, bacon, and finish with a good drizzle of honey. Fold the crust edges in when done. Bake for about 16 minutes.