Showing posts with label sun-dried tomatoes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sun-dried tomatoes. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cheddar Mielie Bread with Sun-Dried Tomatoes #BreadBakers

Celebrate the bounty of summer with sweet corn and sun-dried tomatoes in a cheddar loaf with a hit of spicy chilies. This rich bread is fabulous toasted until crunchy, bringing out its extra cheesiness. 

You’ve heard me wax lyrical about summer cherries when we were living in France and how they are my favorite treat when in the States each summer, but I’ve been holding out on you about my love affair with sweet corn, the cobs of early summer, their tender pale yellow kernels bursting with milk and sugar, cooked ever so briefly and delicious just as is. They don't even need butter or salt. I could eat my not inconsiderable weight in those as well.

As I searched online for inspiration for this month’s BreadBakers challenge to use summer’s bounty in bread, I was looking for something that would celebrate my love of sweet corn. But I didn’t want cornbread. I wanted corn bread, that is to say, bread with corn, if you know what I mean. It was quite a challenge to make The Google separate the two.

Corn. Maize. Maíz. Jagung. Maïs. Milho. These I knew from living in various countries but mielie, pronounced mealy, was new to me. (Even better: Suikermielies which means sweet corn, or literally, sugar corn.). I kept coming across recipes for mielie bread or mealy bread, both of which intrigued me. The first because I was unfamiliar with the Afrikaans word for corn and the second because my immediate thought was, Who the heck wants to bake mealy bread? It didn’t sound like a nice thing. Mealy is not a desirable quality. It also put me in mind of mealy bugs. Shudder. Turns out that mielie bread and mealy bread are one and the same and there is no actual mealiness or bugs involved. Some have cornmeal as well as corn, others are quick bread with corn kernels. Exactly what I was looking for!

My lovely cheesy loaf was adapted from this recipe on Simply Delicious Food.

2 1/2 cups or 315g flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1/3 cup or 75g butter, melted and cooled
1 cup or 240ml buttermilk
 1 large fresh corn on the cob
1 small can (8 .5 oz or 241g) cream style sweet corn
8 oz or 227g cheddar cheese, grated
1 oz or 30g sun-dried tomatoes (store bought or make your own!)
2 hot red chili peppers

Boil your corn on the cob for about 3-5 minutes in lightly salted water. Drain and rinse with cool water. Leave until cool enough to handle and then slice the golden kernels off the cob with a sharp knife.

I cut the cob in two to make it easier to hold.

Meanwhile, pour some boiling water over your sun-dried tomatoes and leave them to rehydrate.

Once plumped, drain the water and squeeze any excess out. If you are using tomatoes packed in oil, dry them off thoroughly between some paper towels.

Chop the tomatoes roughly with a sharp knife and mince your red chilies.

Divide your grated cheddar into two relatively even piles and add a small handful of the chopped tomatoes to one of them. Mix thoroughly.

Preheat the oven to 350°F or 180°C and grease a standard size loaf pan.

Meanwhile, sift all of your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and then add the fresh corn kernels and the tomato-less pile of cheddar to the bowl and mix well to make sure all the kernels are coated with flour. This will help ensure they stay suspended in the bread batter, rather than sinking to the bottom.

In another mixing bowl, beat together the eggs, butter, buttermilk and creamed corn. Add in the minced chilies and the chopped sun-dried tomatoes. Whisk again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold until just combined.

Pour the thick batter into your greased loaf pan.

Cover the top of the batter with the cheddar/sun-dried tomato mixture and place the pan in your preheated oven.

Bake for 55-65 minutes or until the loaf is golden brown and a skewer inserted comes out clean. If the loaf is browning too fast, cover the top with aluminum foil.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool down for 10 minutes before removing the loaf from the bread pan.

Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing to serve.


Have you ever baked bread with corn that wasn’t cornbread? What’s your favorite summer fruit or vegetable? Here to encourage you to bake some bread with the bounty of summer is our talented host Pavani of Cook's Hideout and the rest of my Bread Bakers group.


#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.

Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send me an email with your blog URL to


Monday, August 4, 2014

BLT (Bacon Lettuce Tomato) Muffins #MuffinMonday

Sun-dried tomatoes, crispy smoked bacon and still crunchy baby gem lettuce cooked briefly in bacon fat make a fabulous BLT muffin! Perfect for breakfast or snacking on the go.

Baby gem lettuce, quick fried in bacon fat, is a treat all on its own. Added to muffin batter with crispy bacon and sun-dried tomatoes, it makes a fabulous baked BLT that is handy for breakfast or snack time on the go.
I pride myself on being an adventurous eater. That said, the first time I encountered cooked lettuce was in the kitchen of a Dutch friend who was making lettuce soup. The sound of it didn’t appeal to me at all so I was pleasantly surprised by how tasty it was.

Since then I have enjoyed peas simmered with lettuce and butter the French way, grilled Romaine in salads and wilted lettuce cooked in bacon fat, in the Southern tradition. It wasn’t something I remember either of my grandmothers making but that doesn’t stop me from adopting it now.

For this week’s Muffin Monday and the start of Bacon Month, a BLT muffin with baby gem lettuce seared in bacon fat seemed like the obvious choice! I used my easy to make homemade sun-dried tomatoes but store bought would work just as nicely.

BLT (Bacon Lettuce Tomato) Muffins

4 1/2+ oz or 130g streaky smoked bacon (I used two thick cut slices and two normal slices because that’s what I had on hand.)
3/4 oz or 20g sun-dried tomatoes
3 small baby gem lettuces – about 7oz or 200g in total
2 cups or 250g flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder
Black pepper
1/4 cup or 60ml bacon fat and/or canola or other vegetable oil
1 egg
1 cup or 240ml milk

Soak the sun-dried tomatoes in hot water and set aside to plump.

Fry the bacon until crispy and pour the fat into a 1/4 cup or 60ml measuring cup. Top up, if necessary to the full amount with oil.  Set aside. Do not wash the residual grease out of the pan! We are going to fry the lettuce in it. Drain the bacon on some paper towels.

Trim the brown end off of your baby gem lettuces, being careful to leave enough of the cores so they don’t fall apart. Now cut them each into halves.

Heat the bacon pan until quite hot and lay the baby gems in it, cut side down. Fry just a few minutes until browned and then turn them over carefully.

Brown the other side. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Cut the cores out of the lettuces and chop the leaves. I ended up with about 1 cupful of lettuce.

Drain the tomatoes and chop them into smaller bits, reserving 12 bigger pieces to garnish the muffins, if desired. Chop the crispy bacon finely, once again reserving 12 bigger pieces to garnish the muffins, if desired.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by lining it with paper muffin cups or by greasing it thoroughly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine your flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and mustard powder plus a few good grinds of fresh black pepper. My grinder actually has a mix of peppercorns, if you are wondering about the pink and green flecks.

In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, milk and room temperature bacon fat/oil.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredient bowl and mix slightly.

Add in the chopped bacon, chopped lettuce and chopped tomatoes. Fold gently to combine.

Divide the batter evenly between the muffin cups. Top with reserved bacon and tomato, if you kept some aside.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool slightly in the pan. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.


*This is an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy after clicking on the link, I earn some small change for referring you to Amazon, at no extra cost to you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Sun-dried Tomatoes How-To

When your garden is producing more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, or when gorgeous seasonal tomatoes are cheap at the farmer’s market, preserve the sweetness of summer by sun-drying and enjoy the bounty all year round.

This is a different sort of post for me, my first how-to, and I’ve been saving it to share since last summer when I couldn’t pass up cheap seasonal tomatoes and decided to give sun-drying them a try. Turns out it’s easy and our hot, dry summers in Dubai do have an upside!

A framed screen
Some pebbles and other small objects for weights

Tomatoes that are very ripe but still firm and not mushy
Sea salt (Optional)

Wash your tomatoes thoroughly in cool water.

Remove the stems and cut the tomatoes in half, just along one side of the core.

Cut out the core with a sharp knife and discard.

Cut the tomato halves into half again, if they are small, or perhaps thirds if they are larger. You want small wedges that will dry faster.

I debated removing the seeds and pulp but since that is where a lot of the tomato flavor resides, I decided to leave them in. The tomatoes will take longer to dry, if you do the same, but the increased flavor is worth the time invested.  For more information on this, read Why You Should Stop Seeding Tomatoes.

Drain the tomatoes in a colander while you set up the screen outdoors.

In Dubai, it’s so doggone hot that we can’t leave the doors open in the summer anyway so I removed a screen door from the house and balanced it on garden table chairs.  If you have a screen for drying sweaters, this would work also. If your screen has been used outdoors, make sure to give it a good scrubbing to remove any dirt and rinse thoroughly before setting it up in a sunny spot, out of the way of any automatic sprinkler systems.

Lay your tomatoes out on the screen, peel side down and poke toothpicks in around the tomatoes - to hold the cheesecloth off of them - and around the perimeter of the screen - to help secure the cheesecloth in place.

Give them a light sprinkling of sea salt, if desired.

Cover the tomato wedges with a single layer of cheesecloth to stop the birds and bugs from getting to them.  Secure it with the toothpicks around the perimeter and weigh the edges down with little stones and other objects. I started with just the pebbles but ended up adding glass ashtrays and barbecue brushes and whatever else was laying around outside because of a strong breeze.

View from the top

View from underneath.

Balancing the screen door on chairs
Now it’s just a matter of time, patience and good weather. My tomatoes took just two and a half days (54 hours, to be precise) to dry completely because our weather was gloriously hot and the breeze stayed steady. Yours may take a bit longer but, aside from checking that your cheesecloth is still secure, this is all hands-off time.

Sneak peek at 30 hours

I'm calling them done at 54 hours

When your tomatoes are completely dried, store them in a sealed Ziploc in the refrigerator. It’s possible that they could also be stored in a cool, dry cupboard but I wanted to be on the safe side.

To rehydrate the tomatoes before using in a recipe, merely soak them in very hot water until softened. I used mine most recently in a spicy pepperoni sun-dried tomato pesto that was divine!

Need more recipes and ideas for Memorial Day and how to make the most of summer? Check out these links from my fellow Kick Off to Summer participants.

My helper dog was most intrigued by the finished product.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Spicy Pepperoni and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Pepperoni blended with sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts, garlic and arugula makes the perfect spicy pesto to serve over pasta or to spread on crusty bread as an appetizer. Or you can use it as pizza sauce. 

It’s funny how something catches my eye. It could be a sign on the highway or a colorful label on a grocery store shelf or a photo on Pinterest that somehow jumps out as I scroll by, but I am always on the lookout for the unusual and the humorous. My Facebook friends and followers on Instagram know what I’m talking about.

Bowels for your salad?

Dirt is good? Thanks for that, OMO. I no longer need detergent.

Is that meant to be a cantaloupe “bunny” amongst the carrots?
I'm being "ware" but what on earth is a road surprise?

The most ENORMOUS leeks

And my most recent find:

Canned humans? 

One thing I didn’t take a photo of because the container was nondescript, with just a store bar code, was some pepperoni pesto made in-house at Whole Foods. The label caught my eye about the same time as the giant leeks in that same store in Providence, Rhode Island.  So no photo, but I did a make a mental note because pepperoni pesto is genius! I have no idea what was in the plastic vessel at Whole Foods but I made my own, using the tomatoes I sun-dried personally last summer. It is divine. And you need some. Just, please, don’t serve it in a salad bowel.

Ingredients (Makes about 1 3/4 cups or 415ml of pesto)
1/2 cup or 30g sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 cup or 45g pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic (about 10g)
3 1/2 oz or 100g spicy pepperoni
1/2 cup or 120ml olive oil, divided
Couple of good handfuls or 50g arugula or rocket
Sea salt to taste
1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Cover the sun-dried tomatoes with almost boiling water and leave to soften until cool. Drain the water from your tomatoes.

Aren't they a gorgeous color? I sun-dried them myself last summer.

Toast your pine nuts in a small skillet until they are lightly golden.

Blend the softened tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, garlic, pepperoni and a 1/4 cup or 60ml of olive oil in a food processor until you have a smooth paste.

Add in the arugula or rocket and the second 1/4 cup or 60ml olive oil and process again until you have a smooth paste.

Taste the pesto and add salt and lemon juice as needed.  I put about 1/4 teaspoon flakey sea salt and two teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Whir one last time to combine.

This makes a fabulous pasta sauce, pizza sauce or serve with crusty bread to dip.


What’s the funniest/strangest thing you have seen out in public? Leave me a photo in the comments! Let's keep it clean, people!