Monday, September 24, 2012


I had some leftover Mozambique shrimp (recipe is on my last post) which I made again last night and decided to serve it tonight on grilled ciabatta slices. I always forget how great artisan bread is and how well it works with a saucy dish. Kind of like when you have an enormous bowl of mussles in a wine/garlic sauce and need to sop up some of that delicious broth. Same thing here. I went for the bread, there's nothing better. I toasted the bread on my indoor grill for about 3 minutes per side. It had beautiful grill lines and was crunchy, yet still soft in the center. And when I added the reheated shrimp and sauce, the bread accepted the juice and took on the role of host or hostess and I couldn't believe I hadn't tried this combination before. I added some chopped scallions for garnish, but if I had chives or cilantro I would have opted for those. Or even some chopped tomatoes would have been nice.

I don't have a recipe for ciabatta bread to share because I am too afraid to make it, am yeast impaired and have a perfectly good source for fabulous bread in my neighborhood. But I was feeling a bit adventurous yesterday and decided to make a beer bread. There's a bit of a story behind this. A few years ago one of the gals in my office brought in a beer bread (from a kit) for us to try. I really liked it and thought I would someday try to make it. Shortly after that I had dinner with Lori and she ordered an apricot beer. Ding, ding, ding, the bread lights were going off in my head. I decided that I would use apricot beer, chopped, dried apricots and try my hand at what I'd been told is the easiest bread to make. So that was yesterday's afternoon activity. Here's what I did to make the bread:

I bought a 6 pack of  Magic Hat apricot beer.

I needed one bottle for the recipe, but the liquor store wouldn't break up the pack. Not a problem, I'm sure I'll be able figure out a way to consume the other 5 bottles. I gathered the other ingredients and began to put the bread together. Here's the simple recipe:

Apricot Beer Bread
a combination of many beer bread recipes I found on the internet

3 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar (I used Splenda no calorie)
3 T vegetable oil
1 bottle Magic Hat apricot beer
1/2 cup diced dried apricots
Cooking spray

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Now make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the beer and oil. Mix together, but not too long or vigorously because you'll end up with a tough bread. I started with a whisk and ended up using a good old wooden spoon. Add chopped apricots, mix and pour into prepared pan. Bake 60 minutes, remove pan from oven and cool on rack about 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan and continue to cool on rack. Slice when cool.

The first time I tasted this bread I tried it plain. It was delicious and actually tasted like real bread. That's not saying much for the Magic Hat beer. If I hadn't put the chopped, dried apricots in the mix I don't think I would have know this was an apricot bread.

The second time I tried it, I grilled it, and slathered on some peanut butter and apricot jelly.

Very delicious. No, yummy delicious, but not worth the search for artisan apricot beer. I wouldn't say total failure, but I could not taste any apricot beer in the bread. I'm not discouraged, I'm going to try a beer bread recipe again, make it with the left over apricot beer (since it apparently doesn't have a strong apricot flavor), and add some cheese and jalapeno peppers. I bet it will be delicious, and not have any hint of apricot at all. This was definately a good lesson for me. If you want apricot beer bread, buy apricot jelly, slather it on whatever bread you've got in the house and chase it down with a beer.

What did I learn from this?  I can make yeast bread and I can't wait to do it again! And when all else fails, the artisan bread down the street is actually cheaper and something I can count on.

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