Cornmeal Garlic Herb Bread

My mom once gave me some pretty sage advice about cooking:

Practice, study and get comfortable with a recipe, then do whatever you want to it in order to “make it your own”.

They’re words that I now regularly not only cook, but also bake by when I can.

You want to know what the best part of knowing how to bake bread is?

I mean, apart from being able to eat it afterwards. Nothing tops that.

Once you become comfortable with a particular dough recipe, you can do pretty much ANYTHING you want to do with it.

Remember: baking is essentially, a scientific experiment/reaction of ingredients. So long as the key components get included and mixed together in the proper order and technique, there are certain recipes that will allow for variation and addition of a ‘personal flair’.

Bread dough is one of them. So long as your yeast is proofed, all your ingredients are there, your dough is smooth and given enough time to rest, then you can do practically anything you want to it after that first rise.

You can lump it all together into one, throw it in a loaf pan and bake one standard bread loaf. You can shape it into individual dinner rolls or buns. You can fill it with stuff. You can twist, braid, wrap, sculpt–seriously, just about anything you want or could think of.

That’s really kinda what we’re doing here today.

I first used this bread recipe to make standard, simple round cornmeal dinner rolls. Then, when I got more comfortable to it, I umped the ante with the recipe to shape them into pretty flower buns. This third iteration has me shaping it entirely differently, and filling it with a delicious herb butter that I made from scratch.

Don’t be intimidated by the finished product: I promise that it isn’t as nearly complicated to make as it looks. And like the first two versions, it’s really delicious.

Cornmeal Garlic Herb Bread

Recipe Adapted from a Previous Recipe by Jess@Cooking is My Sport

Ingredients

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pkg (1/4 oz) active dry yeast (That’s 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (110°-115°)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4-5 cups all-purpose flour

For Herb Butter

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened
  • About 1 heaping tablespoon  of your blend of favorite herbs, finely chopped (I used rosemary and thyme, but basil, parsley, or chives are also great options as well)
  • 2-3 finely minced garlic cloves (depends on your taste for garlic)
  • A pinch of both salt and pepper

 

Directions

Combine the milk, cornmeal, butter or margarine, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in medium saucepan. Warm over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and allowing to cook until the mixture is slightly thickened. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Soften active dry yeast in warm water (110 degrees F). Sprinkle the 1 tbsp of sugar on top and allow to sit for 10 minutes or until yeast is frothy and activated.

Combine cornmeal mixture, yeast, and 2 well-beaten eggs together in the bowl of a standing mixer, using the paddle attachment to combine together.

Then, using the dough hook attachment, add 1 cup of flour, mixing to combine completely. Continue to add the flour in about 1 cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. (You may not need to use all the flour, this is dependent upon the time of year and your location).

Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour..

Place the dough in another greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover with a layer of plastic wrap, then a damp kitchen towel. Place in a warm place for about an hour.

Meanwhile make the Herb Butter: Combine all of the ingredients together and stir briskly with a fork until it is smooth and easy to spread. Set aside until bread has finished rising.

Generously grease a 9 inch square or circle cake pan or general baking pan.

Sprinkle flour on your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Roll out the dough to a rectangle, around roughly 10 inches wide and 12 or more inches long.

Use a spatula to spread the herb butter generously and evenly over the dough, leaving about 1 inch of open space around the edges.

Starting from the shortest end closes to you, carefully roll the dough into a log. If any filling falls out, just tuck it back in. If the dough sticks to the counter, use a bench scraper to gently pry it up. When done rolling, pinch the dough to seal it closed. Dip a very sharp knife in water and gently, but swiftly, slice the log down its entire length, creating two halves with lots of layers (kitchen shears will work for this too.)

Turn the halves so that the layers are facing up. Press the two halves together at the top, then twist the halves around each other, creating a spiral. Press the halves together again at the bottom. Wrap the braid into a round, courounne shaped loaf.

 Carefully lift the loaf into the center of the greased cake pan.

Cover it with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest until puffy and risen, about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Spray the top of the loaf with cooking spray. Place it on top of a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven, about 45-50 minutes, covering with foil if it browns too quickly.

(Bread is done at an inner temp of 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit, and because this loaf has so many layers, I HIGHLY recommend using an instant read thermometer to gauge when it’s done.)

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #282 cohosted this week by Angie and Antonia @ Zoale.com.

Pot Roast-Style Meatballs

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Happy Day-After-Thanksgiving Everyone!

Did you all have a great holiday with their families? Cook a lot? Eat too much? Watch lots of TV?

Was anyone brave enough to venture out this morning for Black Friday- I hope not. Honestly I just don’t think it’s worth the effort anymore. The Internet and online shopping has (I think) done a good job of making it so that there doesn’t necessarily have to be such a rush or panic for good deals. Granted, there are some things that you have to go and stand in line to get, but c’mon, honestly: are they REALLY worth it?

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Alright, alright. I confess: I have participated in Black Friday a handful of times before. But it was mostly during the 90’s, when online shopping was just getting started and stores were only making their deals available in-house. It does give you a weird kind of adrenaline rush, but not a particularly enjoyable one. Me, I’m a worrier: so naturally, the build up to Black Friday for someone like me would be the fear that I’m getting up early in the morning, risking my safety and raising my stress level for something I’m not even 100% guaranteed to get. What if I can’t run fast enough when they open the doors? What if I’m next to some psycho crazy woman who elbows me in the face as we’re reaching for the same thing? What if someone literally tries to take it out of my cart or hands even if I do get it?

Not that any of that has actually happened to me before (in fact, on the few occasions I did go out for Black Friday, I got what I wanted), but I say all of that just to emphasize that my personality is just not suited for all that craziness. I don’t like conflict, chaos or mean people…and that’s basically what Black Friday is ALL about. So I just stay out of it now.

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So, this is Pot Roast weather. You have to make pot roast during the winter. It’s pure comfort food that sticks to your ribs and just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Problem  is, depending on the size of the meat, it can be a little time consuming. I encountered this problem a little while ago when I wanted some pot roast, but #1, didn’t have enough time to make it, and #2, didn’t really want to pay full price on a piece of good beef that wasn’t on sale at the grocery store. What was on sale though, was the ground turkey, which gave me the idea of trying to replicate the flavors typically found in pot roast, in a meatball. It worked out very well with my Pizza Meatballs, so I didn’t see why it would be so bad to try it out here.

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This may not be true pot roast, but I am still really happy with how it turned out. The flavors still REALLY do come out in the meatballs, and because they’re ground turkey, you can feel a little bit better about having them versus red meat (if you care about watching your red meat intake anyway). If you read the recipe, you will see that I did cut some corners and used one of those Liptons packets to make my gravy. If you’re a purist who believes in only flour-roux based gravy, then that’s fine. Make it that way. I was just in a hurry and needed some gravy for my pot roast meatballs, and this does the job in a pinch. All in all, this is dish turned out really good. It’s not pot roast, but it definitely still has that comforting, stick to your ribs quality that’s really good for this time of year.

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I was very glad that Angie@TheNoviceGardener asked me back to co-host this weeks Fiesta Friday #44 with my good friend Prudy@ButterBasilandBreadcrumbs. It’s a real treat, and I hope all of you can join us, as we always have a lot of fun. If you’re interested in swinging by to contribute, or even just to see what the rest of us are bringing to the party this week, then just click the icon link below. Hope to see you there!

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Pot Roast-Style Meatballs

Recipe by Jess

Print

Ingredients

For Meatballs

  • 3 lbs. ground turkey
  • 1 lb. Turkey sausage
  • 1 packet (.87 oz) of onion (or brown) gravy mix (Like Liptons)
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. ground thyme
  • A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (and 1/2 cup more, if needed)
  • 1 egg, beaten

For Gravy

  • 1 packet of Brown gravy mix (Like Liptons)
  • 1-2 tbsp. flour

 Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place a wire rack over a half sheet pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside

2. Combine all ingredients for meatballs together in a large bowl. If mixture feels too wet to shape, then add remaining half cup of breadcrumbs.

3. Shape meat into golf-ball sized meatballs and place onto wire rack. Bake in oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until meatballs reach an inner temperature of 165° F.

4. Follow package instructions for gravy, adding additional flour to thicken, if desired. Drizzle on top of the meatballs and serve with white rice or egg noodles.