Homemade Naan

 Homemade NaanSecond to Naan
The other night we ordered Indian food from our favorite takeout spot. We order the same things every time because we’re boring. And, we eat there often enough to know what our favorites are. Tikka masala, lamb biryani, tandoori, multiple orders of samosas (I like them for breakfast.), and absolutely without fail, way too much naan to go with it all.

Just like the basket of bread on the table at your favorite restaurant, it is impossible to just eat a little bit of naan. When it’s still piping hot I’ll eat it plain by the handful. When it cools off a bit, there is no better way to soak up every last drop of saucy goodness than by swiping your plate with the naan.

I had never made my own naan—mainly because I never thought I would be able to get it right without using a tandoor. And, frankly, it was just easier to order it. However, on those nights when I throw together a quick chicken curry at home, it would be nice to have some fresh naan that didn’t come from a package at the store.

So it will come as no surprise that I was very happy to find this recipe for making naan in a cast-iron skillet. It’s simple and the bulk of my everyday pans are cast iron. Yay me. The good news? Naan can also make a great flatbread sandwich which is good because I plan to make these again this weekend…curry or no curry.

Homemade Naan Recipe
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia
Yields 8 pieces

This recipe for homemade naan turns out delicious, soft, puffy, airy, bread with beautiful golden brown spots on the surface. They taste just like the best Indian buffet restaurants! Read more…

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese TartNew Year’s Nosh
It happened. I actually uttered the words I am tired of food the other day and my family was right there with me. After indulging in nothing but the good stuff for 36 hours we were ready to not eat. We were all very excited about the salad I made for dinner last night. But now we’re staring New Year’s in the face. What to do?

I think the best course of action is to go small and snacky. A few finger foods that are easy and perfect for grazing without being a whole big meal. Maybe a charcuterie platter which seems to be all the rage right now. Or potentially a few hot bites like these Cashel Blue, Spinach, and Smoked Salmon Tartlets or the Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart below. The dough makes for a great bite but I have done it with pre-made puff pastry and had great results. It also works well with apples if you are so inclined.

No matter what your New Year’s celebration will look like, here’s hoping you have a safe, healthy and happy New Year!!!

Roasted Pear, Shallot, and Blue Cheese Tart
Adapted from the New York Times Cooking Section
Yields 12 servings

This sweet and savory pear tart is sophisticated enough for holiday celebrations. The topping is a comforting, mellow jumble of sweet roasted pears and shallots perfumed with thyme and pungent blue cheese.

If you want to simplify this recipe, purchase some good-quality puff pastry (like Dufour’s in our freezer) and substitute it for making your own dough. Read more…

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread RecipeWhen you find a recipe that piques your interest, your mouth starts to water in anticipation of what could be. But, there is always the possibility that the picture you have in your mind is not the reality. Sometimes that is due to user error and other times it is because of the way that recipe is written.

My problem is, when I get excited about a recipe, I want it to be perfect and I am really bummed when it’s not. One of the hardest things to do is to write a recipe that is clear and concise for a reading public that includes cooking talents that span the spectrum. It is almost impossible to get it perfect for everyone.

Therefore, when I find a recipe that I want to try, I always read through it a few times before I start the process. That way there are usually no surprises, and it usually comes out the way I expected. There are a few occasions when even armed with knowledge, it doesn’t work right. It can be very disappointing and disheartening especially when you can’t figure out what went wrong. Baking is notorious for this…

Case in point, I recently tried to make a cinnamon apple twist bread that I found from King Arthur. With the little chunks of apple and the cinnamon dressed up with a sweet glaze, this recipe appealed to my need for some indulgent fall flavor. And, I thought it would be a fun treat for a lazy Sunday breakfast.

Things started out just fine. The dough came out beautifully. But, things went sideways with the filling. I opted to go the Clear Gel route and that may have been my mistake. Or, maybe I just chose the wrong apples—because there was so much juice that the filling went everywhere. I managed to get the bread braided and ready to rise but I knew that the result was going to be gooey sticky. (Which could actually be a good thing, am I right?)

At the end of the day, the bread sorta worked. It tasted great but looked terrible. This weekend, I am going to try it again going the cornstarch route. I will not let this recipe defeat me!!

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread Recipe
Adapted from King Arthur Baking Company
Yields 2 loaves

This makes a delicious breakfast loaf and presents beautifully on the table. Read more…

Cheddar Beer Rolls

Cheddar Beer RollsLet the Good Times Roll
I am not a huge beer drinker. I really have to be in the mood for a beer. And even then, I have very specific beer tastes. It’s either a lighter beer like a Corona when it’s hot or I am on a beach. Or, usually, when it’s cold outside at the tailgate, it’s a Guinness or other type of stout. Nothing in between.

I do, however, cook with beer…a lot.

I have a number of recipes that involve beer from Beef Short Ribs Braised in Dark Beer with Bacon and Red Onion to Spicy Beer Marinated Flank Steak but one of my favorite ways to cook using beer is to make bread.

Sure you could do a straight-up beer bread like my Classic Beer Bread recipe which is a great addition to any fall chili or soup dinner. But, if you are looking for something with a twist give this Cheddar Beer Rolls recipe a shot. They are great on the table as dinner rolls. But, they work equally well when made into hamburger buns for a little something unexpected to up your tailgating game…and if you really want to get crazy, add some diced jalapeños.

Cheddar Beer Rolls Recipe
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields 12 dinner-sized rolls or 6 hamburger buns

The addition of beer makes these Cheddar Beer Rolls recipe especially light and fluffy. And, you can also make delicious burger buns. Read more…