Garlic Bread

I’m obsessed with garlic bread. It seems like we’re always eating it here at Forty*Chestnuts. We’re eating it with soup, roast chicken, pasta…it can be eaten with pretty much everything else we make. The bread is so easy to make, it’s never really occurred to us to share the recipe. But it’s so delicious, we’re going to devote a whole post to it.

Great garlic bread has that perfect balance of crusty exterior with a soft, buttery, garlicky interior. We’ve experimented using different types of breads: ciabatta has too many holes in the middle, the baguette at Whole Foods is too dense, and the Trader Joe’s baguette isn’t soft enough in the middle. The one that we’ve like the best is the homemade baguette from Fairway. We’ve also experimented with different methods of slicing the loaf to spread the garlic butter mixture. Slicing the ciabatta or baguette in the middle horizontally didn’t spread the garlic flavor to the whole loaf. We prefer slicing the baguette into about 1″ slices, making sure you don’t slice all the way through. Spreading the mixture this way covers more of the loaf insides. A word about the mixture itself, we absolutely love the cheese. It melts between the slices and is stringy when you pull the slices apart. We loved this recipe for garlic bread from Drizzle & Dip that we wanted to share it with you. Try this bread with our Roasted Tomato and Basil Soup. The pairing is absolutely delicious!

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Mix the minced garlic, coriander, black pepper, and parmesan cheese with the softened butter.
  3. Slice the baguette into your desired thickness, ensuring you don’t cut all the way through.
  4. Spread the butter mixture generously between the cut slices and a little bit over the top of the baguette.
  5. Wrap in foil.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes and then open the foil and bake for another 3 minutes to brown the loaf.

Cook’s Notes

If you don’t have enough time to soften the butter at room temperature. In a bowl, microwave the butter for 10-15 seconds, until soft. If it melts too much, place the bowl in the fridge and check back after 30-45 seconds. Try variations of this timing until the butter becomes soft and spreadable.

If you want a milder garlic flavor, use 2-3 garlic cloves.

Feel free to substitute or add to the coriander with other herbs of your liking! I think my next variation on this will be with rosemary!

Be careful to not overdo the butter mixture between the cut slices. Otherwise the slices will turn out soggy.

If your loaf is already brown and crispy, reduce the last part of the baking time that browns the loaf.

Walnut Rolls

I’ve been spoiled…by my bread machine. Freshly baked bread – cinnamon raisin swirl, cheddar onion, honey herb, pizza dough and even focaccia – all without getting my hands doughy. It’s easy and without the fuss and mess. But yes, if you want to get into the details of it all, there are slight textural changes to the bread depending on how it’s kneaded. The science of it, gluten develops no matter how you knead the dough. But machine-kneading is rougher than hand-kneading. So glutens strands get linked together only to be torn apart. This leads to a slightly denser bread; when you slice the loaf, the holes are smaller and compact. Hand kneading is a gentler process where gluten once formed stays together. This leads to a chewier texture and larger holes. Both methods are fine; and of course there are ways of making bread machine bread less dense (type of flour used, flat beer instead of water, etc.).

But for these rolls, I went back to the roots and made them by hand. I wanted to make them right, especially since they’ve been requested for a long time. I’ve just been (lazily) putting it off. This recipe calls for walnut oil, which probably won’t be found in your basic corner store. I bought mine (Roland brand Walnut Oil, 8.5oz for $6) from New Kam Man in Chinatown. You can also get it on Amazon and (I assume) Whole Foods. Just remember to refrigerate it after opening so the flavor lasts.

These walnut rolls are very soft, chewy and impart a deliciously nutty flavor, which is perfect for Fall. The addition of cracked black pepper adds a hint of spice and zing. As with all hand-made bread, it takes patience and time since you need to wait for the dough to rise, a few times actually. But if you have a free afternoon, give these a shot.

Directions

-To make the Sponge-

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the water, yeast and sugar.
  2. Let stand until it looks creamy and the yeast is activated, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for about 1 hour.

-To make the Rolls-

  1. Stir in the walnuts, water, yeast, salt, honey, walnut oil and black pepper into the sponge.
  2. Add in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon.
  3. If needed, add in up to 1/2 cup more flour to make a slightly sticky dough.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Add in additional flour only if dough is sticky.
  5. Place the dough back into the bowl and cover with pastic wrap.
  6. Let rise in a warm place until it doubles in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.
  7. Deflate the dough and cut it in half so it is more manageable.
  8. For each half, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick, using as little additional flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or rolling pin.
  9. Cut the dough into 12 pieces and shape each one into a ball.
  10. Place the balls onto a foil or parchment lined baking sheet.
  11. Cover with an oiled plastic wrap and let rise for at least 30 minutes.
  12. Preheat the oven to 450F.
  13. Use a sharp knife for scissors and cut a 2 inch long slash into the top of each roll.
  14. Place the rolls in the oven and toss 6 ice cubes onto the oven floor and quickly close the door.
  15. Bake for 10 minutes or until nicely browned.

Cook’s Notes

Microwaving the water for about 40 seconds will get it lukewarm.

The dough will initially turn out quite sticky; it did when I made it. I added in about 1/2 cup extra flour, a little bit at a time. When kneading the dough, it’s fine if it is a little bit sticky, just as long as it is not overwhelmingly sticking to your fingers. The dough will smooth out as it rises. You don’t want to add too much additional flour; otherwise the rolls will become tough and not soft.

I like to keep our apartment pretty cool, which means it’s hard to find a warm place to let the sponge and dough rise. I preheat the oven for about 20 seconds, turn it off and then place the bowl in there to let the contents rise.

To reheat these rolls, cover with a slightly damp towel and microwave for about 10-20 seconds depending on how many you’re heating.

Bacon Onion Stuffed Buns

I’ve been asked to make these buns for quite some time now. The reason I haven’t lately is that after all the buns are devoured, I come to the realization I had ingested a pound of bacon. But there is something truly addicting about bacon.

You hear of lapsed vegetarians tasting real, pork bacon for the first time and becoming obsessed with its crispy, salty goodness. We each have our own personally developed taste preferences. So how is it that practically everyone I’ve met loves bacon? On a chemical level during the Maillard reaction, amino acids and sugars in bacon fat create distinctive flavor compositions when they reach a certain level of heat during the cooking process. Are we our taste buds just one chemical reaction away from pure bliss?

But regardless of why we love bacon. Bacon is bacon and it tastes damn good. And nothing goes better with bacon than some onions, cooked in bacon drippings of course. Your apartment will smell terribly delicious after you make these buns. While my recipe makes 24 small (about 3 – 4 bite) buns, I sometimes joke that I should make one huge bun using up all the dough and filling. I’m sure that will set some type of record for bacon filled food. You’d probably need a knife and fork to eat it in that case. But for the less ambitious, the serving size below, or even used to make slightly larger 1 dozen or 18 – 20 buns, is perfectly reasonable.

Directions

-For the Dough-

  1. Mix the sugar and yeast into the warm water and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl or bread machine insert, add the water mixture, flour and salt.
  3. Create the dough and let rise for about 2 hours, or use the dough cycle on the bread machine. Set aside.

-For the Filling-

  1. Cook the bacon according to package instructions and reserve the bacon drippings.
  2. In a dutch oven or large pan, warm a few tablespoons of the bacon drippings and cook the diced onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. You may need to cook the onions in batches depending on the size of your dutch oven or pan.
  3. Chop the cooked bacon so they are finely diced.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the bacon and onions with some salt and pepper to taste.

-For the Assembly-

  1. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes and divide into 24 pieces.
  2. Also divide the filling into 24 servings. This will be about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons per bun.
  3. Flatten or roll each dough piece into a round about 4″ – 5″ in diameter.
  4. Scoop some filling and place it in the center of the round.
  5. Join the edged together in the middle to form a bun shape.
  6. Place joined edge side down on a floured baking sheet.
  7. Repeat until the dough and filling are used up.
  8. Cover buns with saran wrap and let rise for about 1 hour.

-For the Baking-

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Brush the tops of each bun with some egg wash and sprinkle some sesame seeds.
  3. Bake on middle rack for about 15 – 18 minutes.

Cook’s Notes

While I love the smell of bacon, I don’t like it in my clothes. And in our tiny NYC apartments, I’m sure you’ve experienced the smell of your cooked food getting all over your apartment. So I refer broiling bacon to frying it out in the open on the stove. And remember to close your closet doors and bedroom doors. Opening windows on opposite sides of your apartment will also help clearing the smell of bacon.

I like the crispiness of bacon but I also want to taste some meatiness in the filling. I also don’t like bacon cured using salt and the addition of nitrates. I opt for thicker cut, smoked, uncured and nitrate free bacon. It sounds like a mouthful, but they’re not hard to find. Specially, I used Trader Joe’s Uncured and Nitrate Free Applewood Smoked Bacon Ends & Pieces for this dish. The Applewood smokiness gets into the bacon drippings, which I used to cook the onions. So there was a great, smokey flavor to the filling.

Steamed Turkey Baozi

Baozi is part of Chinese cuisine and generally refers to a type of steamed, filled bun. The kind you’re probably most familiar with is the roasted pork buns (cha siu bao) commonly found in Chinatowns. Soup dumplings are another kind of bao, called xiaolongbao. As you can tell, the word bao in these names denote that they are a type of steamed and filled bun. You have to try these! They’re quite delicious! I love biting into one of these – you get the texture of the soft, pillowy steamed bun that has been infused with the flavor of the meat during the steaming process. And along with this bite, you get a part of the filling that’s moist, flavorful and savory.

The dough for baozi is the same as the kind used for mantou, which I wrote about when I made Slow Cooker Barbecue Pulled Chicken Mantou Sandwiches. It’s a simple dough of just flour, water, sugar (optional), salt and yeast. The filling is traditionally ground pork, but I use turkey (sometimes a mixture of turkey and pork) because it’s leaner. The other ingredients in the filling is similar to what you put into meatballs, bread crumbs, egg and some broth. These additions make the filling moist and allow the flavor to get steamed into the dough. Yum! The other filling ingredients that make the dish traditionally Chinese include chives and spring onions. You can be creative with the filling ingredients! Large pieces of chopped shrimp can be added into the filling. And there are dessert versions of baozi, which have sweet bean paste, black sesame paste or lotus seed paste as the filling. While baozi can be eaten throughout the day, they’re most often eaten for breakfast in China. I’ll eat them for breakfast, lunch (and snack!), and dinner any day.

Directions

-For the Dough-

  1. Dissolve the sugar into the water.
  2. Add in yeast and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Mix together flour and salt.
  4. Pour in yeast mixture and stir together.
  5. Knead to form a soft dough.
  6. Put dough in a bowl and cover with saran wrap or a lid.
  7. Let rise 1 1/2 – 2 hours, until it about doubles.
  8. If using a bread machine, put all the ingredients into the insert and set on basic dough cycle.
  9. Once the dough finishes rising, punch down and knead for about 5 minutes.
  10. Roll the dough into a log shape and divide into 16 equal pieces. Set aside.

-For the Filling-

  1. In a large bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the filling.
  2. Roughly divide the filling into 16 portions so each baozi has equal filling.

-For the Assembly-

  1. Take a piece of dough and flatten to a round about 4″ in diameter. Make sure that the outer rim is a bit thinner than the rest of the round since the middle area needs to be thick enough to hold the filling without ripping.
  2. Cup the round in your hand and scoop a portion of the filling into the center of the dough.
  3. Bring together the edges of the round and pinch together at the top to make the baozi shape.
  4. Place each shaped baozi on a piece of cut parchment paper. This will keep it from sticking to the bottom of the steamer basket.
  5. Place the baozi in the steamer baskets a few inches apart from each other.
  6. Cover and let rise 45 min.

-For the Steaming-

  1. Add water to the steamer stack and steam 20 minutes.
  2. After the stove is turned off, let baozi sit in steamer covered for about 5 minutes so the steam can dissipate gradually. If the cover is immediately lifted after cooking, the quick escape of steam can cause the baozi to collapse.

Cook’s Notes

I like to eat baozi with some dipping sauce. I typically mix in some chili (sriracha) with some Chinese black vinegar.

Ground turkey is lean so the filling will be more dry than if you use pork. For a good in-between, you can mix these two types of ground meat.

To reheat leftover baozi, place a damp paper towel over one bun and microwave for 45 seconds. You can also reheat the leftover baozi by pan-heating (pan-frying) them in a bit of oil. This gives it a nice crunchy crust on the outside, like you get in fried dumplings. If you don’t want to use that much oil in the reheating process, first reheat in the microwave and finish on a lightly seasoned (or dry) pan just to harden the outside a bit.