Friday, October 26, 2012

Sweet Potato Walnut Cheese Bread

I should call this Leftover Bread but there are a lot of people out there who turn their noses up at leftovers.  I am not one of them.  My favorite breakfast is, in fact, whatever we ate the night before.  But this bread deserves much more than leftover status, because it is wonderful.  I made it this week as part of the Random Recipe Challenge for October, where the instigator, Dom, from Belleau Kitchen, asked that we delve into our store cupboards and pick a random, forgotten item to make into something delicious.  I took a little liberty with the storage area because my freezer is way worse off than my cupboard.  I have a penchant for bagging little bits of this and that to “use later” (read: hardly ever) and thought it would be more of a challenge and certainly more random since many of the bags aren’t even labeled.  I know, shame on me.   Anyhoo, what I came out with was actually two bags: One with small pieces of leftover cheese, some blue, some chèvre with a soft rind, a little cheddar and one that I imagine might once have been a proud piece of Tomme de Chèvre.  The other bag contained walnuts.  I thought about throwing the second one back in but what’s the challenge in that?  I did an ingredients search on EatYourBooks and came up with a lovely Delia Smith quick bread recipe from her How to Cook Book 1.  I’d have to adapt it to accommodate the walnuts but I figured I could take a little leeway since I had challenged myself with two ingredients, instead of one.  And while I was at it, I decided to use some leftover sweet potatoes from the refrigerator, instead of grating a fresh potato.  After all, clearing out unused stuff was the point of the game!  It feels so good!

Random Recipes #21 - October

Wildly adapted from Delia’s Goats' Cheese, Onion and Potato Bread with Thyme.

1 level cup and a rounded 1/3 cup or 175g flour
1 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 oz or 170g cooked sweet potatoes
3.5 oz or 100g walnuts
6 oz or 170g assorted strong cheeses
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
4 tablespoons milk
1 egg
Olive oil for greasing the cookie sheet
Butter to serve, optional

Preheat the oven to gas 375°F or 190°C.

Pare the hard rind from the cheese, if there is one, and cut it into 1/2 in or 1cm cubes.  I left the soft rind on the chèvre or goats' cheese because we like it.

Chop your walnuts rather coarsely.

Put the flour, baking powder and salt into a big, roomy mixing bowl and whisk to mix, which gives the flour a good airing.  (Delia actually said to sift all three from up high for the same effect but my sifter had left that day, in the airfreight to Dubai, so the spare whisk would have to do.)

Mash your cooked sweet potato and add it to the flour.  Mix the potato in with a fork, until it looks like crumbs.  Use your hands if you need to.

Add two-thirds of the cheese to the potato/flour bowl.

Add in the walnuts and the smoked paprika.

Still using a fork or spoon, gently mix everything thoroughly.

After that, beat the egg with the milk.

Pour the mixture into the bowl, just bringing it all together to a loose, rough dough, still using your fork or a rubber spatula.  It will seem too dry to come together but just keep mixing and turning the bowl and the dough and your patience will be rewarded.   It will come together.

Rub a little olive oil on your baking sheet and transfer the dough on top of the oil.
Pat it gently into a 6-inch or 15 cm rough round.  You may need to wet your hands with some water to keep the dough from sticking to them.

Now lightly press the rest of the cheese into the surface of the dough.

I saved the small chunk of cheddar for this purpose, in case you are wondering why they all look the same. 

Bake the bread on the middle shelf of the oven for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove it to a cooling rack or cutting board and serve it still warm if possible.  Slathering of butter optional but delicious.


After note:  To take using leftovers one more step, this was delicious toasted on the griddle the next morning for breakfast.

There is nothing better than bread fresh from the oven, except maybe sweet potato, walnut cheese bread toasted the next day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Apple Allspice Muffins #MuffinMonday

If you have Liked my blog page on Facebook  – and thank you so much if you have – then you know that I was traveling in Egypt last weekend.  I have finally gotten straight that Upper Egypt is south and Lower Egypt is north and I am sad to be leaving this place just as I get the hang of it!  It’s all to do with the Nile, you see.  This ancient, mighty river flows north all the way through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.  Most of its path is pure desert and, yet, along the banks and into the adjoining land, amazing vegetation grows in an astounding manner.  Flying into Luxor from Cairo, we saw acres and acres and acres of green.  As we traveled by van and bus to temples and tombs, all impressive testimonies to the ingenuity and wealth of ancient Egypt, we saw those lands being worked (mostly by hand with the occasional tractor) by modern-day Egyptians no less ingenious, providing food for the nation.  We passed fields of banana trees, corn, sugar cane and trucks and wheelbarrows piled high with ripe red tomatoes and shiny purple eggplant sand green cabbages more than a foot and a half across.  No kidding!   I will include a few photos of our trip after the regularly scheduled Muffin Monday muffin recipe for those who might be interested.

This week’s muffin comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home To Yours.  It is a simple recipe made beautiful by a generous streusel topping.  My only two alterations were the addition of one green apple chopped finely (and some lemon juice to stop it going brown) and a teaspoon of cinnamon, because I think allspice, apples and cinnamon are very good friends.  I hope you all agree.


For the streusel:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

5 tablespoons or 70g cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the muffins:

2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large green apple
2 cups or 250g all-purpose flour

1/2 cup or 115g granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed or 50g dark brown sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup or 115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375°F or 190°C and grease your muffin tin or line it with paper liners.

First we will make the streusel topping.  Put the flour, brown sugar and allspice in a small bowl and stir with a fork, mashing out the lumps in the brown sugar.

Add in the cold butter, cut into chunks and combine with a pastry blender or your fingers.  I tend to start out with the pastry blender and then use my fingers to get rid of the final large stubborn lumps of butter.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

On to the muffins!  Measure out two tablespoons of lemon juice into a small bowl big enough to hold your chopped apple.  Peel, core then chop the apple and add it to the lemon juice, stirring well to make sure all the little pieces of the apple are covered.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, allspice, cinnamon and salt.  Mash the brown sugar lumps out with a fork.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla extract.

Pour your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold them together until just mixed.

Fold in the chopped apple.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Heap some streusel topping on each muffin.  This makes a lot of topping so don’t be shy.  Dorie’s instructions say to lightly press the topping down into the batter but I completely forgot this step.  I didn’t lose any topping while baking so don’t stress out if you do too.

Bake in the preheated oven about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a rack for a few minutes and then remove the muffins to cool completely.


~ ~ ~
And, now, some photos from our trip.

A tomb in the Worker's Village  - these are the folks that dug the enormous tombs
for the Valley of the Kings, where, sadly, photo taking is no longer allowed. 

Some of the beautiful decorations from inside the tomb. 

The Habu Temple in Luxor.

Amazing that color still remains.

Going to market?

The streets were filled with these little trucks and even motorbikes loaded with old corn stalks to be used for roofing.

The desert highway from Luxor to Abydos, away from the Nile, obviously. 

Donkeys are a typical mode of transportation.  We must have seen at least one hundred. 

Washing day!  I love the way they paint their balconies. Some even had curtains to keep out the dust and sun. 

Full load of bananas.

Not sure you can tell how large these cabbages were but they are ENORMOUS.

Tractors and camels (and donkeys and mules and water buffalo) all worked the fields and plied the roads. 

The temple in Abydos. 

This is the ceiling of the Abydos Temple.  It was lived in during past centuries and the fires that
were built to cook and heat the enormous stone structure had discolored the original painted carvings.
They left part dark after restoration so we could see the work that was done. 

Carvings in the temple of Dendera

Empty sarcophagi outside the temple of Dendera.  

Beautiful town streets that have an irrigation system.  And a street cleaner. 

More painted balconies and laundry. 

We passed this lovely mosque on our way home.

Thanks for traveling along with me!