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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting

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Our Daring Baker challenge for November is a recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting from Shuna Fish Lydon, an exceptional chef who is oh so lucky to be in London, my favorite city. Samuel Johnson said, "when one is tired of London, one is tired of life". A quite easily applied to this luxurious caramel cake slathered with a buttery caramel frosting, perfect for any occasion and never a tiring dessert. You can find Shuna's recipe, originally by Flo Braker here and a tutorial here.

Delores from Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity along with co-hosts, Alex from Blondie and Brownie and Jenny over at Foray into Food chose a great cake to serve for the Holidays and one that can be easily made ahead and assembled the day you will serve the cake. For those who bake gluten-free, Natalie of Gluten-a Go-Go was consulted for alternative ingredients.

To get that mellow caramel flavor.. a syrup made from sugar and water was cooked in a pan until a lovely brown color was attained. After the caramel syrup cooled, it was added to the cake ingredients. The cake came together easily as did the frosting. The frosting also contained the caramel syrup which further enhanced the caramel flavor. Instead of making the optional vanilla bean caramels, I decorated the cake with candied pecans. A definite keeper, I will make this cake again and again.


CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)
In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light

(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)

Happy Baking to everyone!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Homemade Maple Nut Granola

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Our Thanksgiving dinner is the most looked forward to Holiday meal of the year, a repast where food abounds and we're together as a family, but so much time is spent in the kitchen preparing food for the big event that breakfast Thanksgiving morning is usually up for grabs. For the first time in years, I won't have the Thanksgiving dinner at my house so I have had time to think about what would be quick, easy and healthy breakfast, but transportable, too.

While perusing the November-Decembert issue of Eating Well magazine, I found a delicious maple nut granola which not only had the requisite oatmeal, dried fruit and various nuts and seeds, but pure maple syrup and pepitas, green hulled pumpkin seeds. Most commercial brands granola have artificial flavorings, plus loads of ingredients that you may not want in your granola. Pepitas are widely used in Mexican and Southwestern cooking. Those two ingredients made my decision along with the fact that the granola will keep well and can be made ahead. A perfectly transportable breakfast dish. Served with good Greek yogurt and some fresh fruit, our breakfast will be complete.

The recipe came together quickly and the heavenly smells wafting from my oven as the granola baked reminded me of Fall and of Thanksgiving. I have made homemade granola many times, but this one is my all time favorite and will become a staple in my kitchen. When making the granola, feel free to experiment with other dried fruits and nuts to come up with your own personal recipe. Original recipe here.


Maple Nut Granola

5 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (Bob's Red Mill is a good brand)
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 unsalted sunflower seeds
1/2 unsalted hulled pumpkin seeds(pepitas)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 275°F.

Combine oats, coconut chips, almonds, pecans, brown sugar, sunflower seeds, and pumpkins seeds in large bowl. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, combine the maple syrup, water and canola oil. Pour over oat mixture, stir to combine well. Place in a 12x15 inch roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Stir, continue baking until granola turns golden brown and begins to crisp about 45 minutes more. Remove from oven and stir in dried cranberries. Cool until room temperature before storing. Makes about 10 cups. Keeps in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Note-you don't have to worry about it keeping for two weeks-the granola will be gone in days. It's that good.


More granola recipes on the Web.

From the foodlibrarian, a lovely mix of homemade granola, yogurt and fresh fruit.

A lovely homemade granola served with mango yogurt and soy milk over at buttersugarflour.

A fruity version from cafefernando.

Cookbookcatchall's granola made with honey.

One year ago on photo blog -Three Apples

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vanilla Arborio Rice Pudding with Raspberry Whipped Cream-Tuesdays with Dorie

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"I know how much you like rice pudding, so you'll be happy with what I'm making for the Tuesday with Dorie group", I said to my husband last week. "Well", he said, "I do like the pudding if it is made properly-it has to be thick and custardy." Whoops!! I thought I was defeated from the beginning, especially after reading the comments and realizing that this rice pudding will be nowhere near being "thick and custardy". Nevertheless, he loved it! The pudding was a bit runny even after cooking over an hour, but thickened up some in it's 5 hour stint in the refrigerator. The Arborio rice, typically used for risotto, was firm and creamy after simmering in the milk. I'm more fond of vanilla flavoring than chocolate and somehow, a chocolate rice pudding didn't thrill me, so I added a tablespoon of Trader Joe's Vanilla Bean Paste to my rice pudding. However, I don't think it is available there now. See the Food Librarian's post on where to buy vanilla bean paste. Dried raspberries steeped in Framboise completed the flavorings in the pudding itself while I topped the finished product with a fresh raspberry whipped cream.

Raspberry Whipped Cream

2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup raspberries
1 1/2 cup cold heavy cream

Combine sugar and raspberries. Crush slightly with a fork. Let stand 20 minutes. In an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whip cream until stiff peaks form; lightly fold in crushed raspberries until a swirl pattern is achieved. Refrigerate until ready to top rice puddings. Makes about 2 cups. Original recipe here.

Dessert shots are quite the rage now and I thought that was a good way to contain my puddings. This was all last minute thinking and the sun was sinking fast, so fired off a few shots quickly. Actually, I think the rice pudding shots are a good way to serve the puddings, especially after a rich meal when just a "petite bouchée" satisfies. Thanks to Isabelle from lesgourmandisesdias for her comfort food pick of the quintessential rice pudding. Next week is the Thanksgiving Twofer pie, two favorite holiday pies, pumpkin and pecan, rolled into one with Vibi of lacasserolecarree as host. Also, don't miss seeing all the lovely variations on the Arborio rice pudding on the Tuesdays with Dorie website. Until next time, "Cheers"!


One year ago- Red Onion Slice Still Life from photo-per-diem.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grilled Chicken and Sausage Kebabs with Hot Red and Green Cabbage Slaw

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Update:
Please note that the kielbasa or smoked sausage is fully cooked-if using a fresh sausage, place links in a foil-lined pan, add two tablespoons water, loosely wrap and cook for 15-20 minutes to precook the sausage, cool and slice into 1" pieces. Proceed as below

I had a few days to myself not long ago, but didn't want to resort to eating fast food or a fried egg sandwich which is usually what I end up dining on when I have no one to cook for. In my freezer, I found a small boneless chicken breast that I had frozen a few weeks ago and in the refrigerator, I had half a package of kielbasa from a recent low country boil, some red and green cabbage, some maple-cured bacon and a couple of bottles of lager, a light beer . Surely, I could find something delicious and unique to cook from these few ingredients. Grilling outside is my favorite way of cooking in any sort of weather, so I decided the chicken and kielbasa would become kebabs with a beer marinade. A German influenced meal was developing, it seemed. The two cabbages would become a slaw with a warm bacon vinaigrette. Now to get cooking!

Lime juice, olive oil and the beer are the main components for the marinade. Garlic and honey add another dimension as well as a torn fresh bay leaf. Because I was short of time, I only marinated the kebabs for a few hours. The shredded red and green cabbage along with some sliced leeks and carrots were set aside in separate bowls until the warm vinaigrette was made, then combined. The smoky flavor of the maple-cured bacon, plus some maple syrup adds a distinct, but not too sweet flavor to the vinaigrette. The grilled kebabs sit atop this lovely warm slaw. Beer is the beverage of choice, but a light red wine, such as a pinot noir would be nice, too.

Grilled Chicken and Sausage Kebabs

Ingredients

Juice of 1 lime
1 cup beer, lager or any light colored beer
1 teaspoon honey
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf, torn
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bonesless chicken breast, about 1 pound, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 link kielbasa, or smoked sausage of choice, about 3/4 pound, cut into 1 inch slices

If using bamboo skewers, soak in cold water for about an hour. Combine ingredients for marinade. Add chicken and sausage, marinate at least one hour. While chicken and sausage is marinating, prepare cole slaw. When chicken and sausage has marinated, alternately, skewer chicken and sausage on bamboo skewers. Prepare charcoal or gas grill according to manufacturers instructions for a moderately hot fire. Grill kebabs 10-15 minutes until chicken is cooked throughly, but still moist. Serves 2-4

Hot Cabbage Slaw

4 slices (4 ounces) bacon, cut in half
1/2 cup apple-cider vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup (grade B, if available)
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup (2 stalks) sliced leeks
3 cups shredded green cabbage
1 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup (2 medium) grated carrots

1. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp.
Transfer to paper towels and discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from skillet.
Add vinegar, maple syrup, celery seed, and black pepper. Bring to a boil
and cook 1 minute. Pour all but 1 tablespoon warm dressing into a small
bowl.

2. Adjust heat to medium low and add leeks to skillet. Cook until
slightly softened — about 2 minutes. Add green and red cabbage and carrots.
Stir in reserved dressing and cook just until vegetables soften — 3 to
4 minutes. Transfer to serving platter, top with bacon, and serve
immediately.
Hot Cabbage Slaw recipe here.

To serve: Place kebabs atop hot slaw or serve separately.

One year ago- Chicken Coconut Curry with Scallions.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kugelhopf-Tuesdays with Dorie

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A fancy name for a cross between a yeast cake and a yeast bread, but the Kugelhopf is a lovely textured, slightly sweet bread soaked in butter while warm, much like a Savarin or a Baba au Rhum is soaked with a flavored syrup. Whoever first baked this bread must have thought that it wouldn't impress anyone, so had a fancy mold made for it. The mold is a fluted mold shaped like a turban and makes a beautiful bread. I'm disappointed I couldn't find the Kugelhopf pan anywhere short of having to order it online and time was not on my side. I had to rush off to Palm Springs on Sunday, so did everything on Saturday, therefore, my photos were rushed.

Thanks to Yolanda for choosing Kugelhopf for this Tuesdays with Dorie edition. You can find the recipe on her blog, but also check out other posts on the TWD site.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Espresso Caramels

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There was little doubt in my mind that when presented with the choice of coffee or tea with which to prepare a dish to submit to this edition of Meeta's Monthly Mingle, coffee would win hands down. The smell of freshly brewed coffee wafting through the house in the early morning hours is my alarm clock. It's deep, rich aroma is unique among hot beverages. Coffee conjures up hearty, rich flavors whereas tea seems suited for more delicate flavors.

Coffee beans are of two basic types, arabica and robusta. Arabica is the more superior of the two and is grown by more coffee growers than the robusta. We prize the arabica bean and depending upon what region of the world it is grown, the beans flavor varies widely. How the bean is roasted also affects the depth of flavor. From lightly roasted for a mild flavor to heavily roasted for espresso and other very strong coffees. For the espresso caramels, I used Ferrara instant espresso, a very hearty coffee that dissolves easily in a liquid. To further enhance the coffee flavor of the caramels, a tablespoon of Sabrosa, a Mexican liqueur was added to the final mixture.

Espresso caramels are not difficult to make, but a candy thermometer is crucial in order to attain the proper temperature (240°-242°F). A candy making chart is helpful for making many different cooked confections. The mixture gets very hot, so take care in removing the pan from the heat. When the caramels have set up and are cut into squares or strips, wrap them in the proper size parchment papers immediately as the candy will begin to spread out if not wrapped. The caramels will keep for about 2 weeks in an airtight container which makes them an easy make ahead confection for the upcoming holidays.


Espresso Caramels
Adapted from "Coffee, Scrumptious Drinks and Treats", by Betty Rosbottom with lovely photographs by Lara Hata

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing foil-lined pan
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon coffee liqueur, omit if you like
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
pinch salt

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides of about 2 inches. Generously butter the bottoms and sides of the foil. Set pan aside.You can use a smaller square pan if you want thicker caramels. In the 8-inch pan, they will be about 1/4 inch thick.

Melt butter with vanilla in a small saucepan. When butter has melted, add the instant espresso and stir to combine thoroughly. Remove from heat. Add coffee liqueur, if desired.

Combine heavy cream, brown sugar, granulated sugar, corn syrup and pinch of salt in a heavy, deep saucepan. Set saucepan over medium-low heat and stir constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon until sugars have dissolved and the mixture begins to boil, about 4-5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and place a candy thermometer in the saucepan. Continue to stir until mixture reaches 240°-242°F, about 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat and stir in reserved butter, espresso, vanilla and liqueur mixture. Stir until well-combined. Pour mixture in prepared pan . Cool completely, about 2 hours. The caramel can stand overnight covered.

Lift caramel out by the foil overhang and invert on a lightly oiled surface. Peel foil off the back. Oil the blade of a large, sharp knife and cut the caramel into strips about 1/2 to 1-inch wide, depending upon how big you want your caramel pieces to be. Re-oil knife and cut each strip into 1/2-1-inch wide pieces. Wrap caramels individually in parchment papers. 4x4-inch parchment squares work well with this size caramel. Adjust size of paper accordingly. Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. Makes about 64 caramels

A little extra-for a caramel maple syrup for pancakes, melt some of the caramels in a double boiler. Add enough pure maple syrup to make a pancake type syrup mixture. Serve with blueberry pancakes for a real treat. Also, the prepared caramel syrup can be used to make the caramel whipped cream in the Pumpkin Pots de Creme recipe here.



Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie-Rugelach

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I have seen Rugelach in some upscale bakeries, but I never knew what the mysterious little cookies contained until I read the recipe that Piggy from Piggy's Cooking Journal chose for this Tuesdays with Dorie edition. What a luscious combination of jam, cinnamon sugar, nuts, currants, and chppped chocolate. I knew I would like it especially since the dough contained cream cheese and butter which would surely make a tender cookie.

Just like the "little black dress", Rugelach will always be in style, as a fancy cookie for an elegant party or for a casual afternoon tea. Mine weren't as pretty as the photo in Dorie's book. I think I should have spread a thinner layer of jam as it oozed out of the cookie while baking. But this is the first time I have made this cookie, so I will be more careful in the future. A great cookie, though! Check out all the posts from the TWD blog roll on this wonderful little tea or coffee time treat. Grace from Piggy's Cooking Journal has the recipe.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pumpkin Pots de Creme Topped with Caramel Whipped Cream

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I adore pumpkin pie and love making a homemade crust, but this year I have decided that my pumpkin dessert will be this Pumpkin Pot de Creme spiced with some of the usual pumpkin pie spices, but I have added just a hint of ground chipotle chili pepper to the mix. Chipotles are smoked jalapeno chile peppers which are used extensively in Southwestern and Mexican cuisine. A pureed sweet potato dish that I make quite often has chipotles en adobo which are chipotles in a spicy, vinegary tomato sauce. So why not add it to pumpkin, a kindred vegetable in color and used in some of the same ways. I grew up having sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving because my father thought he didn't like pumpkin. Once my sister made a pumpkin pie, but didn't tell him until the pie was devoured by everyone, including him. From then on, he was a fan of pumpkin pies.

The pumpkin is still the star in this dessert and has all the ingredients of the pumpkin pie, minus the crust which sometimes can end up soggy and disappointing. The pumpkin filling is poured into ramekins and baked in a hot water bath so you get a velvety consistency. A lovely topping of caramel whipped cream makes this dessert a very special treat for any winter holiday meal.




Pumpkin Pots de Creme

Ingredients

1 (15oz) can unsweetened pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling mix
3 large eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half cream

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bring water to boil in kettle for hot water bath.

Whisk together pumpkin puree and eggs. Mix in the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, chipotle chile pepper and salt. Stir in half and half and mix until smooth.

Divide mixture evenly among 8 (1/2 cup capacity) ramekins. Place ramekins in a deep baking pan, place in middle rack of oven. Pour hot water in the pan to about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about an hour. A thin knife inserted in the pots de creme should come out almost clean.

Let cool slightly, serve warm or chilled with the Caramel Whipped Cream.

Caramel Whipped Cream

Ingredients

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1-2 tablespoons prepared caramel sauce ( I used espresso caramels that I melted and added maple syrup) The espresso caramels will be in a post later this week, but you can also use prepared caramel sauce. Espresso Caramels recipe here.

Combine ingredients, chill for an hour. Whip with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.


Saturday, November 01, 2008

Spicy Southwestern Braid

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This rustic cornmeal and cilantro flecked braid, redolent of the flavors of the Southwest and Mexico, is a hearty bread which can be served alone as a sandwich or with a simple soup or pasta dish. The braid is filled with layers of black or pinto beans, corn, green chiles, black olives, salsa and Pepper Jack cheese for a slightly spicy flavor. The dough is easily prepared in a bread machine on the dough cycle and can be made a few hours ahead of filling the braid, just refrigerate the dough a few hours or overnight until ready to assemble. With the exception of the cilantro, most of these ingredients can be found in your pantry.

I find the bread machine a great tool in making some breads, but mostly use the dough cycle as I like to shape my own dough for a more natural looking bread. My bread machine of old finally froze up on me after many years of bread-making, so I bought a new Cuisinart convection bread machine which has 16 pre-set menu options, but the Artisan dough cycle, in addition to the normal dough cycle was what really sold me on the machine. Artisan dough requires a long, cool rise, perfect for French bread or focaccia. Of course, you don't have to use a bread machine to make this dough, it can also be made by hand or with a heavy duty electric mixer.


Spicy Southwestern Braid
Adapted from Pizza, Focaccia, Flat and Filled Breads-From Your Bread Machine by Lora Brody

Cornmeal Cilantro Dough

2 teaspoons active dry or bread machine yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup coarse ground yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup,plus 2 tablespoons lukewarm water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup lightly packed whole cilantro leaves, if using by hand or mixer method, chop cilantro leaves

With a Bread Machine:
Place all ingredients except the cilantro in bread machine container. Process on the dough cycle according to the manufacturer's instructions for your machine.If you machine has a mix in setting, when the beeper goes off, add in the cilantro. Otherwise, about two minutes before the end of the machine's second kneading cycle , add in the cilantro. Check the dough about 10 minutes before the end of the second kneading cycle; the dough should be a smooth ball. Adjust flour and water, if necessary. While dough is rising in the machine, prepare the filling. After cycle has completed, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface.

By Hand or Electric Mixer
In a large bowl, combine yeast, sugar, flour, cornmeal and salt. Make a well in the middle and add water and oil mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment of an electric mixer until ingredients are incorporated. If dough is too dry, add a tablespoon of water at a time until a soft dough is formed. Mix in chopped cilantro. If kneading by hand, transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 5 minutes. If kneading with an electric mixer, change to a kneading attachment and knead for about 5 minutes on medium speed.Place in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to oiled side, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about an hour. While dough is rising, prepare filling.

Filling

1 can (16 oz.) black beans or pinto beans
1 small can (3/4 cup) sliced black olives, drained
3/4 cup frozen (defrosted) or fresh corn kernels
1 small can (4 1/2 oz) chopped green chiles, drained
1/2 cup salsa, spicy or mild
2 cups (8oz) shredded Pepper Jack , cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

Assembly

Divide dough into two equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, roll into a 15x10-inch rectangle. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Visually divide rectangle into thirds, each 10x5 inches. On the middle third of the dough, leaving 1-inch of space at each end, layer on half the beans, half the black olives, half the corn corn, half the green chiles,half the salsa and sprinkle on half the shredded cheese.

Using a sharp knife or scissors, on the unfilled sides of each section of dough, make 6 evenly spaced 5 inch long cuts in the dough, cutting from one edge of one of the unfilled sides just to where the filling starts. Fold the small section of dough at then end of the filling over the filling. Alternating sides, cross the strips of dough over the filling tucking them underneath the dough on the opposite side, making a braid-like appearance. Repeat process with other rectangle of dough. Tent each braid with a tent of lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until puffy-about 1 hour.

Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 30 minutes, or until golden brown and filling has begun to bubble. Let cool 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 2 braids. To freeze cooked braid, let cool completely, transfer to a plastic freezer bag. Defrost while still wrapped so moisture will collect on the outside of the braid, not on the braid. Preheat oven to 350°F. Wrap loosely in foil or place directly on rack, reheat for ten to 15 minutes.

Spicy Southwestern Braid

See Spicy Southwestern Braid on Key Ingredient.

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