Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Joy in the Simple Things

I know what you're thinking...I couldn't possibly make delicious home-made bread like this unless I took all day to do it and even then I would be frustrated. But you are wrong. This post contains three recipes that are unbelievably simple, and have been a big hit with guests. The three recipes are:
1. Quick Beer Bread (that's right, beer)
2. Pear Custard Bars
3. Pomegranate-Blueberry-Clubsoda Splash

1. Quick Beer Bread (featured above)

Check it out, this is how easy it is:

One 8 ½ x 4 ½-inch loaf

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 81/2 x 41/2-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together thoroughly in a large bowl:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups light or dark beer (but not stout), cold or at room temperature, but not flat
Fold just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center and all the way to the bottom of the pan comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes before unmolding to cool completely on the rack.

For some, myself included, it is somewhat of a sacrifice in the moment to pour beer anywhere except into a glass or my own mouth, but in the end it is worth it.

2. Pear Custard Bars

(from the now-famous "Simply in Season" cookbook)

The crust:

1/3 cup / 75 ml butter (softened)

1/3 cup / 75 ml sugar

Cream together with an electric mixer or vigourously by hand.

3/4 cup/ 175 ml nuts (chopped...I use almonds)

Stir in and press into an 8x8-inch / 2-L baking pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350F / 180C until lighly browned, 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.

The custard:

8 ounces / 220 g cream cheese (softened)

1/2 cup / 125 ml sugar (NOTE! I use about half this amount of sugar)

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a mixing bowl beat cream cheese until smooth. Mix in sugar, egg, and vanilla. Pour over crust.

The pears:

3 cups / 750 ml fresh pears (peeled and sliced)

Arrange over filling.

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

(I also like to had a tablespoon or two of whiskey or cognac...just to keep with the prudent-use-of-alcohol theme of this blog entry.)

Combine and sprinkle over pears. Bake in preheated oven at 350F / 180C for 25-30 minutes.

Now, to make them into "bars" you are supposed to cool for 45 minutes, then cover and refrigerate at least 45 minutes before cutting. Store in refrigerator.

But I like to serve it hot with ice-cream! (see photo....mmmm....)

3. Pomegranate-Blueberry-Clubsoda Splash

In case you can't figure out this liven-up-any-dinner-party gem yourself, go buy some SoNice pomegranate-blueberry juice, pour a bit in a glass, and top off generously with Club Soda. Oh yes, and the add-your-alcohol-of-choice would be vodka or gin. But honestly, I just lap it up alcohol-less, it's really that yummy.

And finally, here is a photo to prove just how satisfied your post-eating dinner guests can be (and such a good-looking bunch to boot!)

1 comment:

claire said...

Yay, I'm so happy the beer bread found its way onto the blog.