Italian Bread

Rustic Italian BreadThis might sound nerdy to some, but I have been making loaves of italian bread throughout the week, nearly three per week. My father-n-law asked why I did not just buy the bread, as I joked about how my kids are already eating me out of the house, and my response was that there is something about making bread. Something so nice, whether it is the smell, the process, or simply overall, the taste and texture is so much better.

Making this bread only takes about three hours total, much of which is rising time for the dough. The ingredients are simple and the flavor of olive oil is embedded with the bread.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 1 package of active dry yeast
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • Fine cornmeal for dusting prior to baking
  • 1 egg white

Let’s get started.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, salt, yeast, and sugar and combine. Slowly add the olive oil and your water and mix to form your dough. On a lightly floured surface, take the dough out of the bowl and add to the floured surface, kneading for nearly 6-8 minutes. Once your dough is somewhat elastic, add it to a lightly greased bowl (I use olive oil), cover with plastic wrap and let rise for nearly one hour. Once it has risen, punch it down, cover, and let it rise for nearly 20 minutes. In the meantime, dust your baking apn with a bit of fine cornmeal. Once the dough has risen again from being punched down, remove from the bowl, and shape into a 12 inch loaf. This is going to be rustic so do not worry too much about the shape.

Cover, and let this rise again for nearly one hour. I told you the rising process takes the most time, just enjoy the smell.

Now, get your egg white ready by cracking an egg, and removing the yolk. I do this by working it over a bowl, getting the white in the bowl, then having the yolk still in one of the shells. Whisk the egg white with a fork for a few seconds, then brush onto the bread.

At this time, I add sea salt to the top, just bit, as well as a favorite dried herb, in my case, I use basil or thyme.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and bake for nearly 28 minutes. Once done, remove from the baking pan and let cool on a wired rack. Enjoy.

The Corned Beef Sandwich

Corned Beef SandwichYou know those times when you constantly cannot get something out of your mind, especially when it comes to food? I am having one of those times, and you guessed it, the corned beef sandwich is taking over. I typically make corned beef twice a year, in the Spring for St. Patrick’s Day, and once in the fall. Making the corned beef could not be easier, and the result is spectacular in flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large corned beef
  • 2 bottles of beer, I use Harp
  • 3 cloves of garlic, rough chop
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Water

In a large pot, add the corned beef, and rub it with the seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef. Add to this the beer, garlic, and bay leaves. You will also want to add water to the pot, enough to cover the corned beef.

Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer for approximately 4-6 hours. Yes, you will have to wait this long!

Once done, remove, and slice against the grain into thin slices. Stack these high on a marble rye bread, and serve with swiss cheese, dark mustard, or a russian dressing.

Trust me, this one is good.

My Take on Banh Mi

Banh Mi with BeefWhile living in Dallas, Texas, I would often frequent the markets on the weekends. Typically the Mexican supermercados as they were in abundance, however, I would also visit quite a few Asian markets. The reason being is that all of their ingredients were much more fresh, and cheaper than the traditional grocery store. During my weekend visits to the Asian markets, which were typically located in Asian districts and embedded in plazas, I would stop in one of the smaller stores that were serving food. I would not call them restaurants because there was lack of seating, however they did serve food from the counter. One of these stores served the Banh Mi. If you have never had a Banh Mi, you have to try one in your lifetime. Banh Mi typically means salad sandwich, served with cucumber, tomato, and carrot on a french bread loaf.
The Vietnamese did this sandwich right, and the variations were typically with pork, either steamed pork, or a barbecued pork. The bbq pork was one that I really loved. The flavors were awesome and had a bit of vinegar and spice that just went well as a sandwich. I have been thinking of this sandwich for some time now, and finally got around to making it, well, making it my way.

Banh Mi with BeefInstead of using pork, I had some nice beef that was marinating in oyster sauce, sesame oil, black pepper, and of course garlic. I cut the steak in thin slices and broiled them, as my grill was not accessible due to the snow. I also served this on a rustic Italian loaf that I made that morning. My wife loved the sandwich so much, I cannot wait to make her one with the pork.

Ingredients:

  • French or Italian Bread
  • Marinated Beef (oyster sauce, garlic, pepper, sesame oil), sliced
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro
  • Romaine lettuce, sliced
  • Carrot, shredded
  • 2-3 tbs of rice wine vinegar
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Splash of sesame oil
  • Black Pepper

Combine the vegetables in a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar, black pepper, sesame oil, and soy sauce to make the dressing. Add the dressing to the bowl of sliced vegetables and toss to coat.

Now that your meat has already been cooked through the broiler, slice your bread, add the steak, and wrap in foil. Add to a preheated 400-degree oven for roughly five minutes, as you only want the bread to warm through. Remove from the oven and add a nice amount of vegetables to the top. Add your top slice of bread, and get ready to rumble. This one is a sandwich you will most likely come back to throughout the year. Enjoy.

Drunken Beef

Prime rib sandwhichAs you might recall, it was not too long ago that I made a prime rib. This six pounder fed my entire family, made two batches of french onion soup that served 10, and allowed me to make this next recipe. Now, members of my family have talked about this one for some time so it was up to me to figure out what all the hype was about. This is another one of those recipes that takes very little time and is really amazing. Perfect sandwich, and you get some great au jus to boot.

Ingredients:

  • Prime rib
  • 12 oz bottle of dark beer
  • 6 cloves of garlic, lightly whacked with a knife
  • salt and pepper
  • Slices of provolone cheese
  • Italian or French bread
  • appetite

In a casserole dish, add thin slices of your prime rib. Now with my leftovers, I had to remove some of the garlic horseradish that came along for the ride. I did not want that flavor mixed into the beer and garlic. Once you have all of the beef in place, add the whole cloves of garlic, pinch of salt, few grinds of fresh ground pepper, and yes, the bottle of dark beer. Cover with foil. I let the beef get drunk for about an hour. Why? I don’t know, but I do know that it made the beef, as well as myself, very happy. Now, preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and cook the beef for roughly 30 minutes or so.

Drunken BeefIn the meantime, get your bread ready. Cut off as much bread as you can take for your sandwich. Lighly butter, and add some garlic powder. Remove the dish from the oven and replace with the bread, cooking until it gets a light golden brown, then quickly remove, and add your slices of provolone cheese to cover the bread. Place back into the oven until bubbly. Remove, add the prime rib, and get ready to rumble. I used a ladle to serve the garlic beer and used that as my au jus. It seriously rocked. Remember, it’s all good.