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Entries in pepper (6)


Rosemary Sandwich Bread

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

When I first decided to become a baker, I was convinced I would love cake decorating. I had a small artistic streak and fostered a passion for arts and crafts. Cake decorating seemed like the perfect mesh of my interests and hobbies, as if it was meant to be. I was in love with the idea before I even tried it.

My first real job in the field was baking the cakes in a small bakery specializing in its namesake, with the hopes of one day becoming a decorator myself. I took local cake decorating courses in the evenings, trying to become proficient in the tricks of the trade. After many long evenings filled with lopsided roses, uneven borders, cracked fondant, and frustrated tears, I was no longer convinced I would love—or even like—cake decorating. In fact, I was sincerely positive I never wanted to lay eyes on a flower made of frosting again.

I put my simple dreams of becoming a decorator to rest, tucking them in a box to be forgotten under the bed. Though disappointed, my love for baking had not wavered. It was time to point my heart in a different direction.

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

When I started baking breads for another bakery, my first impression left me with a cynical view and a sour attitude. The dough was ever sticky and my shoulders ached from kneading and rolling out dozens of bagels and rolls. I had a difficult time seeing the joy in the process. As the days passed, however, my perspective slowly began to evolve. I began to understand the dough, feeling the subtle changes in its texture as I kneaded it beneath my fingertips. My hands learned to conform to the character of the dough when I rolled it into various shapes. The musky scent of yeast punctuated these intimate moments, which quickly became my most beloved of all my tasks.

The dough was alive, truly alive, filled with the life my buttercream roses could only pretend to possess. Though I never anticipated it, I was smitten, enamored with the process from beginning to end. Even as I bake in my small apartment kitchen today, I can only allow a few weeks to pass before the itch to rediscover yeast surfaces.

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

Last weekend was one such instance. I bought a bundle of fresh rosemary on a whim and, still dreaming of this focaccia, I knew that the rosemary was destined to get together with a little yeast. With the addition of salt, cracked pepper, and olive oil, this simple bread became a handsome marriage of flavors. For the last week, I've been enjoying this bread, savoring it slowly, finding a new love in the cracks and crevices of the grain.

At first I wasn't sure what the Rosemary Sandwich Bread would work well with, but after a little dabbling, I discovered it is divine with nearly everything, elevating simple sandwiches to an entirely new level. I served it aside chicken noodle soup, combined with chicken and bacon to form the best toasted sandwiches, and I imagine it would be glorious soaked in mashed potatoes and gravy. I've spent so much energy in the last two days willing the bread to reappear after the last slice was gone that I've vowed to make it again this weekend (and for many, many weekends to follow).

Rosemary Sandwich Bread

Rosemary Sandwich Bread is a Mediterranean twist on the traditional loaf of bread. The final product is herbed and salty, balanced with the rich, smooth undertones of olive oil. This everyday bread has bright flavor that will go well with anything from breakfast to dinner. I strongly suggest using fresh rosemary in the bread to bring about the most vivid flavor, but dried rosemary will work in a pinch. This bread has become an instant favorite in my household and may soon become a kitchen staple.

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Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Food has been a struggle for me the last couple months. After discovering that my body cannot process dairy during the completion of my month long vegan challenge back in June, it has not been easy for me to go dairy-free. Perhaps it seems a little counter-intuitive, but going vegan for a month was much easier than trying to be dairy-free for the last two months. In part, I think this may be because my month long vegan challenge was a personal choice and becoming dairy-free was a decision my body made for me.

Food and I have been at odds since, fighting the dance of siblings as we bicker over what I should put on my plate.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

I do fairly well when I eat alone in the confines of my apartment, cooking up meals for one in a place where I can control the amount of dairy in the refrigerator and cupboards. The real struggle begins the moment I step out of my safe haven. Restaurants have become the enemy; an unwanted challenge as I sift my way through what I can eat and what I can't eat on the menu, feeling little more than an irritation as I ask the waitress pointed questions and make half a dozen omissions and substitutions from the list of entrees.

I struggle with food because it puts my family in an awkward position as they try to make meals around my new disorder. My mother creates the most wonderful food—the vast majority of it made with dairy in one form or another—and I'm conflicted over asking her to leave it off the menu or keeping it on, since I don't want to deny anyone else the pleasures of her cooking. I struggle with food when my boyfriend casually suggests making macaroni and cheese for dinner, forgetting for a moment that I can't eat it, and making us both feel bad about the comment for different reasons—him, for making me remember my love for macaroni, and me, for refusing him a beloved food.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

I struggle with food because so many of my favorite foods are now forbidden. Just because I cannot eat milk, cream, or cheese, doesn't mean I stopped enjoying them. I have cravings for fettuccine Alfredo and rich chocolate ice cream that refuse to disappear, no matter how much I will them away.

I struggle with food because I still want to share new and exciting desserts that are infused with cream and butter because, let's face it, cream and butter never stopped being delicious. In my own kitchen, I'll sometimes substitute margarine or alternative milks for recipes, but there are still occasions when I'll refuse to make pie without a buttery, flaky crust. I'm continuing to juggle this new world of food, trying my best to create recipes that work for me and you.

This journey has a long, long way to go, but I'm trying. Perhaps a little more time is all I really need.

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits

Caramelized Leek, Basil, & Black Pepper Biscuits are packed with flavor. A basic biscuit dough is infused with freshly chopped basil leaves, caramelized leeks, and coarsely ground black pepper. While baking, the biscuits rise, becoming buttery and flaky. These biscuits make a wonderful side for a bowl of soup or casserole, but can stand alone for moments when a biscuit spread with a little butter is all you really need. For tips on creating mile-high biscuits, check this out!

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Roasted Pepper Feta Scones

Roasted Pepper Feta Scones

When I worked in a small bakery, my first responsibility of the day was to fill the pastry case with hot, freshly baked scones. In the darkness of the morning hours, scones were simple enough for my tired mind to understand. Flour, butter, and baking powder—the essentials—were assembled at my right hand. The hum of the mixer accompanied by my practiced motion of tossing in the ingredients became the melody to the break of day.

Once in the case, there was only a brief moment of respite before moving onto the next task.

Roasted Pepper Feta Scones Roasted Pepper Feta Scones

Though the scones were simple enough of a task to my weary mind, I quickly grew tired of them. I resented the spicy peach scones for taking so much longer to assemble. The raspberry white chocolate tested my patience when the raspberries often gave the dough too much moisture (and the scones would bake up as flat as a pancake). The blueberry became a disappointment whenever the bright blueberry color would bleed throughout the batter instead of staying intact.

These scones became my labor of love. I worked hard to produce consistent scones, despite each varieties' quirks. On those mornings when I wasn't ready to face a fight with raspberry white chocolate scones (again), I started inventing my own flavors, with the ingredients hiding around the bakery. Apple cinnamon, white chocolate mocha cappuccino, and chocolate mint became hits among the regulars. These scones were the one item at the bakery I could truly call my own.

Roasted Pepper Feta Scones

Nevertheless, when my time at the bakery came to a close, I was in no hurry to whip up another batch of scones any time soon. After making thousands of scones by hand (and nibbling on too many stale scones destined for the trash), I think I've had my fair share for the next few months (or, to be honest, years).

However, since I rarely made savory scones at the bakery, they still intrigue me. Just about anything could end up in a savory scone—how was anyone supposed to choose? After a little creative thinking (and a craving for roasted bell peppers), these Roasted Pepper Feta Scones were born. Finally a scone that isn't just for breakfast!

Roasted Pepper Feta Scones

Roasted Pepper Feta Scones are buttery, light, and flavorful. Featuring roasted peppers, feta cheese, and green onion, these three flavors come together to make a scone that is as welcome at lunch time as breakfast. You may roast the bell peppers yourself or, for convenience, pick up a jar of roasted peppers at the local market. These tips for making mile-high, flaky biscuits also apply to making scones: check them out!

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