Saturday, February 27, 2010

Apple Pie (Bourbon Filling/Cheddar Crust Optional)

By all measures, I should not be as enamored with pie as I am. My Mother never made it, we never brought it home from the store and there was not a Grandmother's knee I sat at while she crimped a pie crust from a recipe that was passed down from some family ancestor from the 1600's. No, there is nothing in my history that I can point to that would make me have such a deep love of pie. Somehow though, I am utterly enamored and fascinated by it. It might be that I love American History and I worked in politics for a while so perhaps this is just the sap in me that loves the fact that this truly is the most American of American desserts.

Pie personifies the U.S. in that it is rustic, imperfect and takes work and practice to get right. It can be made with a million different combinations of apples and no one combination is better than the other because we all have different tastes and preferences. That, to me, is what America is, rustic, imperfect, with many different cultures, races and traditions that are tied together with some common ingredients. Even the crust over the apples looks like an American Quilt covering one of those lumpy old mattresses that those poor unfortunate Colonists had to sleep on.

So, with the above in mind, give your pie a few tries with new ingredients and tailor it to fit your taste. I love cheddar cheese in my crust and Bourbon on the inside with a huge huge hit of vanilla bean ice cream and a swirl of caramel on top. I think the cheddar cheese is more of a East Coast thing since I tell people about it in the Midwest and they look at me like I am crazy. Trust me on this though, the cheddar cheese adds a richness to the crust that is amazing. After that, hit it with the Bourbon and you have a dessert that truly is the most delectable of delectable desserts. xoxo - AJ

Pie Recipe:


2 tablespoons all-purpose unbleached flour
7-8 large Granny Smith apples (or any combination of apples with some sweet and some tart)
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon grated zest from 1 lemon
1/3 cup white sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 tablespoons Bourbon (optional)
Pinch of allspice
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 large egg beaten with a tablespoon of heavy cream


Adjust oven rack to low position, place a rimmed baking sheet on it and pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. If dough has been in the refrigerator overnight, take it out and let it stand four about an hour until it is soft enough to roll out.

Roll the dough out on a well-floured board into an approximate 12-inch circle. Be careful to bring the edges of the dough together when they start to break apart and turn it on the board with your hands to make sure that it is not sticking to the surface of the board. Flour the board in between rolling if necessary to keep everything sliding well. Transfer the dough around the rolling pin gently into pie pan and leaving the flaps of the dough hanging over the sides. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

Take out second pie crust and let stand at room temperature while preparing filling. Peel, core and slice the apple into thin slices and toss in a large bowl with lemon juice and zest. Add in the flour, sugars, spices, Bourbon is using and salt and mix well with very clean hands. Taste for seasoning and sugar and adjust to your taste. Dump the fruit mixture and any residual juices into the refrigerated pie crust and spread out evenly or mound up in the shell. Dot a few tablespoons of butter on top of the mixture and place back into the fridge while you roll out second pie crust.

Roll out the second piece of pie dough as you did with the first one and carefully place over pie filling. Trim the sides to about a half an inch below the pie lip. tuck the edges under and crimp dough with three fingers or press the dough with a fork. Cut four slits in the top of the dough and brush the egg wash and cream over the dough and crimped sides. Sprinkle lightly with white sugar and place back into the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Take the pie out and place on the baking sheet in the oven and lower the temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for 25 minutes, rotate the pie and lower the temperature again to 375 degrees and continue baking until the top is a light caramel brown for about 30 to 35 minutes. If the top is getting too brown at 10 to 15 minutes, take the pie out and lightly cover it with tin foil until the time is up.

Transfer the pie to a rack and let cool to room temperature for about 4 to 5 hours. Slice and serve with vanilla bean or dulce de leche ice cream.

Pie Crust:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup very cold shortening
1 1/2 sticks salted very cold butter diced
9-10 tablespoons ice water
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese shredded and very cold

Process flour, salt, sugar and cheese in a food processor until combined. Add in diced/cold butter and pulse a few times until it looks like peas in the flour. Add in the shortening and pulse a few times to combine. Add in ice water a couple of tablespoons at a time until dough just comes together into a ball. Add more water if necessary but make sure to not add too much to the point that the dough is too soft and tacky.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead a few times to bring it all together. Cut the dough into two and shape into two disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Black Beans and Rice

My life is a crazy tornado of activity. There is a routine, everything is structured and there is no sitting around. I am definitely one of those people who falls asleep before my head hits the pillow. This is by no means a complaint, I actually prefer the craziness, the more I do, the more energized and alive I feel.

So, with the whirlwind of activity, getting healthy meals into my little guy's mouth is not always easy. The key is in the planning and reheating is my friend. I use the weekends to do the grocery shopping and make as much as possible ahead of time. Sometimes though, I have to throw things together at the last minute because I do not always plan well. To that end, rice and beans are my friend. I keep a stock of canned beans in my cabinets and pasta and rice are always on hand. Beans alone will not make the little man happy but throw in some rice and something bright like an avocado or tomatoes and we are in business. Bonus is that this meal will last a few days and I am of the mind that if a child eats the same thing a few days in a row, he will be just fine.


1 cup cooked white rice
1 15 oz can black beans drained
1 teaspoon salted butter
1 medium Spanish onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 fresh lime juiced
Cilantro (Optional)
1 whole Haas avocado, pit removed and sliced lenghtwise


Make the white rice according to package instructions.

While the rice cooks, in a skillet, melt the butter and cook the onions over medium heat until soft. Add in the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add a little salt and pepper. Add in the black beans and cook for about five minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, the lime juice and chopped cilantro if desired.

Serve with the avocado fanned out over the bean mixture and salt and pepper top to taste.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

I was going to save this until St. Patty's Day but it was just too good this morning to keep in the backlog of recipes to post file. That and the fact that any self-respecting Irishman would turn his nose up to this version of soda bread made me think that this is really a breakfast bread more so than Irish Soda Bread. The Irish will tell you that if it contains raisins, eggs, baking powder, sugar or shortening, it's called "cake", not "bread." As you will see, I hit three out of five ingredients in that description and I think I can safely say that this "Irish Soda Bread" is completely off the reservation. If you are Irish, please do not hate me.

So, as a breakfast bread, this is an excellent weekend treat because it is so very easy and you can have that intoxicating smell running through your place in no time. No kneading, rising, yeasting and this is a fun bread because improvising with ingredients is fairly easy. Again, to the Irish, don't hate me.

One final note, if you are going to have bread straight out of the oven on Sunday morning, may I suggest supplementing that fresh bread with flowers, coffee with a hit of cinnamon, the newspaper and a cute little dog who thinks your feet are her bed. Just a thought. xoxo - AJ

Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home


4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for currants
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 3/4 cups cold buttermilk, shaken
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 cup dried currants
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is mixed into the flour.

With a fork, lightly beat the buttermilk, egg, and orange zest together in a measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture. Combine the currants and walnuts with 1 tablespoon of flour and mix into the dough. It will be very wet.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and knead it a few times into a round loaf. Place the loaf on the prepared sheet pan and lightly cut an X into the top of the bread with a serrated knife. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. When you tap the loaf, it will have a hollow sound.

Cool on a baking rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

Ever notice how it's the little things that make living so amazing? I have had the good fortune to experience many adventures in my life but at the end of the day, the things that are really etched in my brain are my son's little laugh, when he insists on holding my hand or says, "I love you so much Mommy". I also think of the family dinners that I grew up with that would include a ton of laughter or the first bite of a dish or food I had never had before that ends up completely overtaking every taste sense I have. That euphoric feeling of tasting something that is utterly indulgent is how I feel about these cupcakes. They are truly decadent and I believe that eating a rich dessert like this ranks among the little things in life that make it all so sweet.

So, with the gushing out of the way, allow me to provide some disclaimers. These cupcakes are insane concoctions of deep chocolate, rich buttercream frosting and laced with a whole lot of alcohol. How rich you ask? I could only eat half of one before I gave up and put the rest away for later. Also, despite the fact that these have red sprinkles and shiny wrappers that any kid would adore, they are not meant for kiddie consumption and I will not be held responsible for a child that falls over blitzed after devouring one of these little treats.

Now for the story behind the cupcakes. An Irish Car Bomb is a drink that is made with a mix of Baileys Irish Cream and Jameson’s Irish whiskey in a shot glass and dropped into a three-quarters full pint of Guinness that some crazy person must chug all at once. Yikes! Where do people come up with these mixtures and let me just say, god bless it! The only person more brilliant than the one who came up with the drink is the person who came up with these cupcakes. I cannot say enough about them so I will stop here by saying that they are divine and should be made immediately. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats who adapted from Smitten Kitchen


For the Guinness chocolate cupcakes:
1 cup stout (Guinness)
16 tbsp. unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream

For the Bailey’s ganache filling:
8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. Bailey’s Irish cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Bailey’s buttercream frosting:
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
4-5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 cup Bailey’s Irish cream
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats who adapted from Smitten Kitchen


To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350° F. Line two cupcake pans with paper liners. Combine the stout and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the eggs and sour cream to blend. Add the stout-butter mixture and beat just to combine. Mix in the dry ingredients on low speed just until incorporated. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 to ¾ full. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache filling, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for one minute and then whisk until smooth. If the chocolate is not completely melted, place the bowl over a double boiler or give it a very short burst in the microwave (15-20 seconds). Add the butter, vanilla and Bailey’s and stir until combined.

Set aside to let the ganache cool until it is thick enough to be piped. (You can use the refrigerator to speed the cooling process, but be sure to stir every 10 minutes or so to ensure even cooling.) Meanwhile, cut out a portion from the center of the cupcake using the cone method (a small paring knife works best for this). Once the ganache has reached the correct consistency, transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a wide tip and pipe it into the cupcakes.

To make the frosting, place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Mix in the Bailey’s and vanilla until smooth. Add more if necessary until the frosting has reached a good consistency for piping or spreading. Frost the cupcakes as desired.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Coeur a la Crème

What a babe! Yes my darlings, there is my Valentine, 36 pounds of cute and cuddly with a big spoon full of la Crème in his mouth. Before everyone flips and says, my God, you gave that child an entire plate full of cream cheese and whip cream? Um, no, it was for the photo and I siphoned off a piece for him once the pictures were taken. I am sure everyone can guess what happened at that point, yep, pure, unadulterated rage at taking away the entire plate. Good times.

So, on topic here. I have been meaning to make this dessert forever and I finally got off my toucas, got the heart shape mold and did it just in time for Valentine's Day. I love any kind of food that has a wow presentation factor and in that respect, this certianly fits the bill. Side note here to not be afraid of drizzling some chocolate and caramel on top of this delightful treat.

As far as the taste and feel of the this dessert goes, I absolutely love that it has a light quality to it. I am a sucker for cheesecake but the drawback is that it is quite heavy and you almost have to have a dinner of salad for a dessert like cheesecake. The Coeur a la Crème is excellent in that the cream cheese is whipped with heavy cream thereby creating enough air to give it a light feel. The taste is delicate with a hint of lemon but also has a deep flavor with the punch of vanilla and tang of cream cheese. A truly elegant dessert that is a wonderful end to any dinner. The only word that can properly describe the taste is délicieux! Bon Appétit!

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris


12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
Fresh raspberries for serving


Place the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the beater and bowl with a rubber spatula and change the beater for the whisk attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the heavy cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and vanilla bean seeds and beat on high speed until the mixture is very thick, like whipped cream.

Line a 7-inch sieve with cheesecloth so the ends drape over the sides and suspend it over a bowl, making sure that there is space between the bottom of the sieve and the bottom of the bowl for the liquid to drain. Pour the cream mixture into the cheesecloth, fold the ends over the top, and refrigerate overnight.

To serve, discard the liquid, unmold the cream onto a plate. Serve with raspberries and sauce if desired.

Raspberry Sauce:

1 half-pint fresh raspberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup seedless raspberry jam

Place raspberries, sugar, and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and orange liqueur into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until smooth. Chill.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hot Pink Coconut Cupcakes

Is there anything cooler than little sweet treats all wrapped up in animal prints and colored in hot pink? For me, there is not much that can top that on my cool scale but I realize that with the kid, my expertise on what is and is not hip has diminished considerably. I also have a slight obsession with the color pink but I am comfortable enough with my quirks at this point in my life to flaunt them shamelessly.

So let me talk about the cupcakes themselves for a moment. I have been making Ina Garten's coconut cupcakes for years and although everyone fell over themselves for them, I was never completely satisfied. I adjusted the baking time a million times and they still seemed a little bit dry for my taste. Then I came across a coconut cupcake recipe on Epicurious that promised the moistest cupcakes ever. I can safely say, they delivered. The secret is in the reduced coconut milk and although it takes a little more time and planning, it is totally worth it. I added in a few more ingredients to heighten the coconut flavor and I threw some rum in also because quite frankly, I think I am bordering on recipe alcohol abuse. I also use a variation of Ina's frosting recipe since I think nothing can top her concoction of butter and cream cheese. Since I am addicted to cream cheese and really like that flavor to shine, I use much less sugar than what her recipe calls for. So, if you prefer a sweeter frosting, just add more sugar to taste. xoxo - AJ

Recipe adapted from a combination of Epicurious and The Barefoot Constessa Cookbook



Reduced coconut milk:
2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk* (preferably organic)


2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon dark rum
1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature


For reduced coconut milk:

Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium low; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.

For cupcakes:

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line eighteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla, almond extract, rum and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.

For frosting:

1/2 pound cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
2-3 drops of Wilton Rose Icing Color #610-401

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth. Add in the food coloring and mix until desired color is achieved. Add more according to your taste for pink!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Super Bowl Apps

I'm not a huge football fan. I am from Chicago so I root for the Bears and after this past season, can you blame me for being a little sour on football? That said, I do have very fond memories of the '86 Super Bowl and from what I remember, it truly was a fantastical time leading up to and more importantly winning the big game. It is amazing how the Super Bowl transforms a city, especially a city like Chicago in the depths of winter, into a magical place where everyone is in a good mood, people are saying "Hi!" to strangers on the street and there is an air of optimism in the air that permeates everything. Unfortunately, Chicago hasn't seen that kind of happiness in February for a very long time. What to do with the winter blues without a winning team? Eat, drink and be merry!

So, if you are going to a Super Bowl party or hosting, make these appetizers!! I promise your friends will love you and they are about as easy as appetizers come short of going to the store and purchasing pre-made. Bonus is that they go so very well with beer. I have a particular weakness for Black & Tan and I highly recommend it with these. They are salty, buttery and have some serious depth of flavor that only a dark beer can stand up to. Ok, I would not exactly turn down a glass of champagne with these buttery salty delights but seriously, it's the super bowl, that would just be silly. Enjoy!

Recipes adapted from Fine Cooking

Recipe #1

Warm Cheese & Mushroom Toasts

2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 large shallot, finely diced (about 1/4 cup)
Kosher salt
10 oz. mixed mushrooms (like shiitake, cremini, and oyster), trimmed and thinly sliced
Sixteen 1/2-inch slices baguette, cut on a sharp diagonal so they're about 3 inches long
1-1/2 cups grated Gruyère (about 4 oz.)

Melt the butter in a large heavy-duty skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot, season with 1/2 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Raise the heat to high, add the mushrooms and another 1/2 tsp. salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and browned, 3 to 5 minutes longer.

Set an oven rack about 8 inches away from the broiler element and heat the broiler to high. Arrange the bread slices on a large rimmed baking sheet. Broil until lightly toasted, 2 to 4 minutes, rotating the pan as needed for even toasting. Flip the bread, mound a heaping tablespoon of the mushrooms on each piece, and sprinkle with the Gruyère. Broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned, 4 to 7 minutes. Serve immediately.

Recipe #2

Ham, Gruyère & Honey-Mustard Palmiers

1 sheet (about 9 oz.) frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 Tbs. honey Dijon mustard
3 oz. (about 1 cup ) shredded Gruyère
1/4 cup (about 1 oz.) finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
4 oz. very thinly sliced baked ham

Heat the over to 425°F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll the pastry to a 10x14-inch rectangle. Using the back of a spoon, spread the pastry evenly with the mustard. Sprinkle on the Gruyère and Parmigiano in an even layer.

Arrange the ham in a single, even layer, tearing or cutting pieces to fit. Lay a piece of parchment or waxed paper on top and gently roll and press with the rolling pin to compress the layers. Gently peel off the paper without disturbing the ham.

Cut the rectangle in half widthwise to make two 10x7-inch bands. Gently roll one long edge of a band into the center and then roll the opposite edge in so the two rolls meet in the ­middle and resemble a double scroll. Press lightly to stick the two rolls together. Repeat with the second band. (The rolls can be assembled to this point and held in the refrigerator for several hours.)

With a very sharp knife, slice each band into about 22 pieces, just under 1/2-inch each. Arrange the palmiers on two parchment-lined or nonstick baking sheets and bake until deep golden brown and no longer doughy in the center (break one open to be sure), 10 to 12 minutes. Be careful not to burn the bottoms. Let cool on a rack and serve just slightly warm or within an hour if possible.

Recipe #3

Creamy White Bean and Herb Dip

2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 cup)
1/3 cup chopped yellow onion
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives
1 Tbs. chopped fresh marjoram or oregano

Crudités, crusty sourdough bread, or crackers, for serving

Put the beans, cream cheese, onion, lemon juice, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper in a food processor and process until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the oil. Transfer the spread to a large bowl and fold in 2 Tbs. of the chives and the marjoram. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer the spread to a serving bowl, garnish with the remaining 1 Tbs. chives, and serve with crudités, bread, or crackers.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Cheesy Bacon Bread

I was at a dinner party a few weeks ago and a gentleman in attendance talked to me about a magical land in Italy, just outside of Tuscany where cheese was so abundant that it was literally sold in every store on the block. This was a guy who was well traveled and for him to say that he had never seen so many quality cheeses in one place in his life was quite a statement. Can you imagine such a wonderful place? Of course I forgot the name of the town but I will figure it out and post the name as soon as I do.

Anyway, so you see, I love cheese and I feel that it can make almost any meal fabulous. I have a particular weakness for Parmesan and Gruyere which I feel can be put into just about any sandwich, sprinkled on any meal and can end a meal with a drizzle of honey for dessert. Salty and sweet my darlings, nothing better.

So, below is one of my favorite recipes that I can make only if I know I have somewhere to use it or I will gobble it up in about two seconds if left alone with it for any period of time. Really, is there anything better than a bread with two cheeses, bacon and onions? Oh sorry, yes there is, make sure there is a Black and Tan ready when you bite into this concoction. The combination truly pops in your mouth. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from "The Next Best Recipe" by Cook's Illustrated



3 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded on the large holes of a box grater
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 ounces Gruyere cheese cut into small cubes
1 1/4 cup whole milk
5 slices thick cut bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 medium onion diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream or creme fraiche


1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 by 5 inch or 4 mini loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray, then sprinkle 1/2 cup of the Parmesan over the bottom of the pan.

2.) Fry the chopped bacon in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the bacon out of the pan and onto a paper towel-lined plate. Add the diced onion to the left over bacon drippings, stirring frequently until softened, about 3 minutes and set aside.

3.) Whisk the flour, baking powder, cayenne, salt and pepper to combine. Using a rubber spatula, mix in the Gruyere, cooked onion and bacon until all coated with flour. In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, egg and sour cream. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. Do not overmix! Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan; spread to the sides of the pan and level the surface with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan evenly over the surface.

4.) Bake until deep golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. (If you are using 4 small loaf pans as I did, the cooking time will be about ten minutes less). Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes; invert the loaf onto the rack and let cool for about 45 minutes.