Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Sunday Supper, and Savory Monkey Bread

Posted: September 14, 2010 | Author: Johanna | Filed under: Johanna, Sunday Suppers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Since my life has gotten hectic, and my Saturdays are currently swallowed by the dual demons of Getting Up Early and Logging Lots of Miles, followed by the spare visit from Post-Run Disco Nap, Sundays are where I look when I look forward to the weekend.

Part of the wonder of Sunday is that generally, especially as Summer fades through Indian Summer into Fall, there’s nothing to do except watch football and cook. Two of my favorite things to do. So this past Sunday, I decided to implement a process, whereby I make a big meal for Sunday Supper. It serves as a fuel-up for the week, and as a reminder that the weekend ain’t over yet. It gives leftovers for lunch on Monday, and the reminder that Saturday and Sunday aren’t that far away.

This inaugural week, Sunday Supper also gave me the chance to fire up my oven, which was repaired on Saturday, after not working since June 17. (No… I did not break it by kicking it when the Celtics choked away banner number 18 to the Lakers that night. As far as you know.)

The menu was straightforward, delicious food. On Sunday morning, I browned a brisket in my roasting pan on the stove, seasoned with salt and pepper, and then dropped it into my slow-cooker with 2 small chopped onions, 4 chopped stalks of celery, 4 chopped carrots, a can of low-sodium beef broth (yes, I know, canned. But sometimes we all have to do things we don’t want to do) and a can of no-salt-added chopped tomatoes. I set the slow cooker on low, and sat back to wait until the delicious smells got overwhelming.
Roughly 8 hours later, I shredded and chopped the meat, and pureed the rest of the items in the slow cooker into a gravy of sorts, and put everything back in the slow-cooker, this time on WARM, instead of LOW.

To go with the excellent brisket (I love Crock-Potting cheap, tough cuts of meat into delicious oblivion. It warms my soul), I made mashed cauliflower. Our CSA had given us a head of it, and while I’m not the HUGEST fan of cauliflower and broccoli, I figured that I shouldn’t let this veggie go to waste. So, I simmered it in milk, and once it was tender, mashed it with butter, salt, pepper, and some of the reserved milk. In all, it turned out delicious, and I was able to trick myself into believing that it was mashed potatoes. Well played, Cauli. Well played indeed.

The real star of the show, confirmed by the response the photo got on Facebook, was the Savory Monkey Bread I made based on Serious Eats‘ recipe.

Savory Monkey Bread

adapted (lightly) from Serious Eats

1. Scald 1 cup of milk. Scalding refers to heating milk up to 180 degrees, no more, no less. Let the milk cool to lukewarm. I judged lukewarm to be about finger temperature, when I stuck my finger in the pot of milk and it felt neither hot nor cold. I don’t know anybody named Luke, so I had to wing it.

2. Combine the milk, 1 packet of rapid-rise yeast, 1 teaspoon of sugar, and 2 cups of flour in a mixer. With the dough hook or paddle, beat until everything is well-combined. Cover with aluminum foil and let rise until doubled, about an hour.

3. Add another half-cup of flour,  half a stick of room temperature butter and a teaspoon of salt to the bowl, and knead with the dough hook (or by hand) until the butter is incorporated, and the dough is springy and a little bit sticky. I didn’t want to over-beat mine, and the original recipe doesn’t give a time guideline, but it’s nearly impossible to OVER knead your dough. I checked by touching it. When I could poke it, and it felt sticky, but it didn’t stick to my hand, I decided it was ready.
Form into a ball, cover, and let rise again for about 40 minutes.

4. While the dough is rising the second time, make the butter dip. I think next time, I will melt my butter, because it seems easier to manipulate than soft smushy butter with soft smushy dough.
Combine 1 garlic clove (or more, to taste) with a teaspoon of Italian Seasoning, a half-teaspoon each of dried rosemary and dried thyme, half a teaspoon (ish) of smoked hot paprika, a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a whole bunch of grated asiago cheese (I probably used a quarter of a cup) in a food processor.
When the garlic is finely chopped up and the dried herbs start looking like little bits, drop in the other half-stick of butter and combine. This is a compound butter. Leave it on the counter at room temp.
I think that next time, I’ll melt the butter. Then, add the chopped up garlic and herbs TO the melted butter with the spices, and reserve the cheese for sprinkling.

5. Preheat your oven to 325. Grease your pan. I used a 7″ springform bundt pan, but you can use anything you’ve got.
Take the doubled dough out of the bowl, and cut it in half. Cut each half into 16 pieces (more if you feel like it), for a total of 32 (or more). I used my bench scraper, but you can also tear, use kitchen shears, or a knife.
Roll each blob into a ball, and smear with the compound butter (or dip the balls in the melted herb butter) and sprinkle with shredded parmesan, asiago, romano, or all three.
Put the blobs into the greased pan, stacking them on top of each other and trying to fit them into the little crevices so that they’re somewhat evenly layered. (Deb’s post on traditional Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze has great photos, as always, of the process)
If you’re like me, this is the moment to give the whole shebang another coating of grated cheese. Be like me. It’s fun.
Cover the pan, and let it rise for 30-40 minutes, until the little blobs of dough are filling up the pan.

6. Grate on a little more cheese right before you stick the pan in the oven. I won’t tell anybody.

7. Bake for 35-45 minutes, until the dough is golden brown, and smells like you’re going to faint. Remove from the pan if you can (a springform was REALLY helpful for this) and let cool a little bit, until you aren’t burning your fingers trying to eat it.

This was a great way to kick off what I hope will become a Sunday tradition. Stay tuned to find out what happens next Sunday!


4 Comments on “Sunday Supper, and Savory Monkey Bread”

  1. 1 Leanne said at 3:31 pm on September 14, 2010:

    Wow. That’s all I’ve got. Wow.

  2. 2 Mom J said at 8:50 pm on September 14, 2010:

    This all sounds amazingly yummy!!!! I have to get my crock pot cranked up!!!

  3. 3 Bakezilla said at 3:58 pm on September 17, 2010:

    Wow. That monkey bread looks so much better than the only version I’ve ever had – made with pillsbury rolls. I can’t wait to try it!

  4. 4 Lauren said at 10:31 pm on September 26, 2010:

    I can’t believe I waited this long to check to see if you had posted the recipe for the savory monkey bread. Yayyyyy.

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.