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Tag Archives: cheese

Cheddar Apple Cornmeal Bread

24 Sep

Sometimes I just want to bake something. It doesn’t matter what, really. There are days when, faced with an open stretch of an hour or so, I just want to root around in the pantry, see what jumps out at me, then bust out the flour and create something that I can put in the oven. Maybe it’s the comfort that baking suggests, what with the emanating warmth of a heated oven and the lingering scent of something slowly baking and waiting to greet you. Or maybe it’s just that I have so little free time these days, when I have an open moment, my brain automatically commands: MAKE SOMETHING.

Unromantic as that last notion may be, I am glad to have whatever urge it may be that compels me to create new foods. It keeps my creativity sharp, sure, but it also brings me so much joy to be measuring, mixing, and anticipating what new thing I have just thrown together. Because sometimes that is exactly what happens: I find things, I put them together, and I wait to see what emerges. My efforts are not always successful (remind me to not tell you about the time I put dried pears in a batch of cookies and ended up with cookies that tasted as though they were studded with chunks of fibrous cardboard), but, as with this bread, when they are successful, it certainly makes my day feel that much more complete.

So: the bread. I had an apple, I had some cheese, and I wanted to bake something. A tour of the pantry lead me to some cornmeal, and, with the knowledge that I had only a single egg left in the refrigerator, I decided that some sort of batter bread was in order. Heavy on textural variation, this bread is not a cornbread, per se, but neither is it a standard batter bread. Chunks of apple and streaks of sharp cheddar cheese lend the bread a comforting flavor, and, along with the cornmeal, they add a sunny brightness to the appearance that I did not anticipate. Added along with the fine crumb, wonderful toothsome bite, and delicately savory/sweet flavor, it was the final element of a pleasingly successful afternoon experiment, and one I certainly plan on revisiting in the months to come.

Last Year: Lime Coconut Tart and Everything Flatbread

Cheddar Apple Cornmeal Bread Recipe

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and diced into ¼-inch chunks (about 1 cup apple chunks total)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

½ cup cornmeal (finely-ground, not polenta)

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 ¼ cups buttermilk or sour milk

1 large egg

4 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Generously grease an 8 ½” by 4 ½” loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then whisk to combine. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk or sour milk, egg, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, and, with a spatula or wooden spoon, stir just to combine.

Fold the shredded cheese and diced apples into the batter until they are fully incorporated, being careful not to overmix the batter as you fold.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan, then smooth the top as much as possible.  Bake in the center of the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating halfway through. The bread will be done when the top is tall and golden brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the bread emerges with just a small amount of moist crumbs attached.

Cool the bread in its pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Bread is best when served ever-so-slightly warm, or at room temperature.

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Apple and Cheese Quiche

10 Oct

My son came up with the idea for this quiche.  No, really.  He came to it completely on his own, with no prodding whatsoever from his food-centric mother.  This may not sound all that impressive to a lot of people, but considering the fact that most dishes invented by children tend to be either a) deliberately revolting (mud pie with worm sauce, or the ubiquitous poo sandwich), or b) something Willy Wonka would have for breakfast (chocolate chip chocolate cake pancakes with chocolate sauce and chocolate whipped cream), I think my son’s rather creative, yet entirely edible, recipe idea is fairly admirable.  Cheese and apples are a classic pairing, and when combined in the custardy filling of a quiche, they’re the perfect savory end to a chilly fall day.

I once read that kids are 65% more likely to eat food that they have helped make.  Though I find most statistics or factoids about children and their habits to be largely misleading (because if there is one thing you never, ever want to do, it’s read up on how old “most” other children are when they master toilet usage or stop lisping the sound of the letter s), my experiences with cooking with the help of children has proven this statistic to be almost universally true.

Kids like to help.  They may not be very good at it (I am being honest here, so try not to gasp too loudly when I say that, look, kids are messy and uncoordinated, so when you cook with them, things are not going to look like they emerged from a professional cooking show), but allowing them to take part in an adult’s everyday activities gives them the confidence to tackle their own activities with a bit more focus and interest.  Even though my kid tends to drop most items I hand him in the kitchen, splash the contents of a bowl against the wall whenever he attempts to handle a whisk, and grow incredibly tired of my repeated reminders to keep his hands away from the burners on the stove, he’s also comfortable in the kitchen and eager to assist.

I am generally loathe to dole out advice regarding the raising of a child (because there are more types of kids than there are varieties of apples and types of cheeses, and what works for a Brie will most likely not apply to a Manchego, if that makes any sense at all) but I will say that leaving a door open for your kid to explore his food, where it comes from, and how it gets made is an invaluable step towards developing a healthy and realistic relationship with food.

This is not to say that we walk around all day harvesting kale and churning our own butter.  We do, however, have a kid who will approach food with creativity, and who will (as this point, at least) agree to take at least one bite of whatever new item shows up on his dinner plate.  Sometimes he never gets past that first bite (sorry, green beans), but other times, as in the case of this quiche, he eats the entirety of his portion, then asks for more.

Apple and Cheese Quiche

1 parbaked single tart or savory pie crust (the recipe for my favorite savory tart and pie dough can be found here, and you can find further information in that same post about parbaking the crust)

3 large eggs

1 cup milk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

½ cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

1 medium apple (a somewhat firm variety works best here, but I’d stay away from a super tart variety like a Granny Smith), chopped into ¼ inch chunks, about 1 generous cup

pinch cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until thoroughly combined.  Add in cheeses, apple, and spices, and stir to combine.  Pour filling into a parbaked pie crust set on top of a baking sheet.

Bake quiche on the center rack of the oven for 35-45 minutes, until the center has set and the top of the quiche is puffed up and golden brown.

Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

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