HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Savory Ham and Cheese Bread

          We’ve had the most wonderful Christmas and now we are virtually housebound, there having been a significant snowfall on the East End of Long Island the day after Christmas.  The snow has stopped but the wind is blowing and the eight or so inches of the white stuff are making driving treacherous.   At some point, someone will have to explain to me why a car made in Bavaria is so useless in the snow.  It’s just not in its genes.   So we are making do with the contents of our larder and our freezer and since we are Costco shoppers par excellence, we would likely not starve until after Memorial Day.  And Lord knows, above all, we’ve got ham.  This recipe is my gift to the 123 people who have received  Monte's HamTM this holiday season and for those of you whose ham is still to come, even the leftovers are really something to look forward to.  And special thanks to all our customers who've written us such incredible testimonials to the goodness of our ham.  We really appreciated every message we've received. 
        Amongst our Christmas gifts are a whole new library of cookbooks. Few things are more rewarding to me than reading these books cover to cover.   Then I go back and cook whatever truly appealed to me.  In the case of Dorie Greenspan’s “around my french table” (Houghton Mifflin
Harcourt 2010), I never got past page 34 before I headed into the kitchen to make a ‘cake sale’, or savory cake.    According to Dorie, anything baked in a loaf pan is a ‘cake’ in France.  And ‘sale’ means salty (apologies to all, I do not have a accented “e” to correctly spell the word). At any rate this bread is so good and so easy to make that I wanted to share it with you—especially those who have Monte’s HamTM leftovers on hand.  This is a truly an inspired way to use it.

      Dorie Greenspan is best known for her baking.   ‘around my french table’ is loaded with recipes of all kinds but certainly her baking fans will find plenty to love in this gorgeous book.  What is particularly wonderful about this bread is Dorie’s admonition to vary the ingredients any which way you want to.  These side bars to her recipes are labeled “Bonne Idees” and boy are they ever.  And take about adaptability, this can be served with aperitifs, as an accompaniment to a salad, or lightly toasted and buttered and set on the table with a bowl of soup. 
        Today, I am going to share with you how I adapted the recipe to Monte’s Ham.  Please feel free to go with anything you have on hand that makes sense.  I think you’ll find you cannot go wrong whatever you put into this bread which takes all of about 15 minutes to put together and 40 minutes to bake. 
Recipe for Ham and Cheese Bread with thanks to Dorie Greenspan


Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan

1 3/4 cups flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (depending on what cheese you're using)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper.

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup whole milk, at room temperature

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 ½ cups of Monte’s HamTM, thinly sliced (1/8 inch) and then diced into ¼ inch pieces.

1 generous cup (about 4 ounces) coarsely grated Gruyere, Comte, Emmental or cheddar cheese
   
2 ounces Gruyere, Comte, Emmental or cheddar cut into very small cubes  (1/2 to 3/4 cup)

    1/3 cup dried cranberries

4 shallots, finely diced.

1/3 cup walnuts or pecans, toasted and chopped

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Use butter to grease an 8-by-4 1/2-by-2 3/4-inch loaf pan, preferably Pyrex.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt to taste and the pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl for 1 minute, until foamy, then whisk in the milk and oil.

Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture; use a sturdy flexible spatula or wooden spoon to gently mix together until moistened, then stir in the grated and cubed cheese, the ham, the shallots, and the nuts to form a thick, sticky dough. Transfer to the loaf pan and spread to make the dough even on top.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden and a slender knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool for 3 minutes, then run a round-edged knife along the edges of the pan to loosen the loaf. Turn it out and cool right side up before cutting and serving.
NOTE: Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned. Shake often to keep the nuts from burning.