Breads and Spreads
You might say that bread, that most beautiful of human inventions, really doesn’t need any improvement. But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that improving it is exactly what we wanted to do. Well, I have just the method: Spreads. Hummus, olive tapenade, chocolate chips, fruit … the options are limited only by the amount of time, effort and expense you have to put into creating them. Not sure where to start? I asked three chefs to help us out by revealing their favourite bread-enhancing recipes.
Jesse Vergen, chef and owner of Smoking Pig Real BBQ and executive chef of Saint John Ale House, both in New Brunswick, offers a whole array of delicious and original spreads that are easy to prepare and sure to impress.
campari and honey jelly
350 ml blood orange juice (about 6 to 7)
200 g white sugar
80 g local honey
100 ml Campari
15 ml lemon juice
40 ml pectin
Zest of 1 orange
- Boil small jars in a pot of water. Take fresh orange juice, place it in a stainless steel pot with honey, lemon juice and zest, and bring to a rolling boil.
- Add sugar, let it return to a boil; add pectin while stirring, then add butter to increase richness. Skim off any foam that comes up.
- Last thing to go in is the Campari. Pour the hot jelly into sanitized jars. Place on a rack to cool till room temperature, then store in fridge for up to a week.
Sweet barbecue pork butter
This is a by-product of making delicious barbecued (slow indirect smoking) pork shoulder.
- Simply place a tray or pan underneath your pork shoulder in your pit*, and collect 100 g of the rendered barbecue pork fat. Soften 100 g of unsalted butter, 50 ml of molasses and 15 ml salt.
- Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer with a whip attachment, and whip to combine. Use on thick cut “Texas toast,” or fresh cornbread straight out of the oven.
*If you find yourself lacking a pit, feel free to substitute a barbecue or an oven. Lay the pork shoulder on the rack, and place a pan underneath it.
tapanade with digby chicks
(cured, smoked dried herring)
250 g good quality black olives, pitted
60 ml capers
40 ml pine nuts
15 g digby chicks (dried herring)
1 large garlic clove
15 chopped parsley
20 ml lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
80 ml of extra virgin olive oil
5 ml cracked black pepper
- Purée all ingredients in a food processor until you reach your desired chunkiness. Or take out your fancy mortar and pestle and grind it slowly in front of your guests.
Effy Ligris owns Kalikori Olive Oil, which produces and sells high quality olive oil from her family’s own estate in Greece. Break out the ouzo for these classic Greek meze treats.
feta and roast pepper dip
1 red pepper
1 small jalapeño pepper
200 g Greek feta cheese
4 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp milk
Ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dry Greek oregano, to garnish
Slices of baguette or crackers, for serving
- Blacken the red peppers and the chili pepper over a flame or under the grill (broiler) until charred.
- Let cool, peel away the charred skin and remove the seeds from the flesh. Place the pepper and chili flesh into a food processor.
- Add the feta cheese, olive oil, lemon juice and milk. Pulse until you get a smooth dip.
- Sprinkle some of the oregano and cracked black pepper over top and serve.
5 medium-large yellow flesh potatoes
3 tbsp of tarama roe (roe caviar)
1/2 red onion, grated
1 1/4 cups olive oil
Juice of 2 1/2 lemons
- Peel and quarter potatoes. Boil in salted water. Let cool, then mash (or use a ricer). Add the tarama roe, onion, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix until smooth.
Whoever said that spreads need to go on top of the bread? Chef Victor Bongo, owner of Bongo’s Food in Vancouver, offers up two of his favourite recipes in which all the good stuff is spread on the inside.
chocolate and figs bread
“The Chocolate and Figs Bread recipe brings back memories from my childhood in the Congo,” Bongo recounts. “My grandmother used to walk almost two hours from her village to our home to visit every Sunday. She always brought over goodies. It was the same thing every week — a bag of juicy mangoes that she grows in her yard and chocolate bread. Every Sunday was like Christmas. I would wait on the street looking down for her, and as soon as I would see her, I would run and help her by grabbing the bread. So, here I have created my own version of it using figs.” Try slathering a little peanut butter or cream cheese onto a slice for extra oomph.
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm milk
2 cups warm water
1 cup dark sifted cocoa powder
6 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dried mission figs, small dice
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
- In a mixing bowl add the yeast, salt, sugar, warm milk and warm water. Cover and place in a warm spot 5 to 10 minutes until frothy.
- Turn the mixer to low speed and add the sifted cocoa powder. Mix for one minute, then slowly add the flour. Once all the flour is in the bowl, mix again for about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Pour the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead about 2 minutes. Add the figs and chocolate chips little by little until they’re evenly incorporated. Form the dough into a smooth ball. Place it in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place somewhere warm for about 45 minutes to an hour, or till it doubles in size.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and place it onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a sharp knife or dough cutter, cut the dough into 120 g pieces for rolls or 450 g pieces for baguettes. Shape and place the dough onto a baking tray and set aside in a warm place until almost doubled in size.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375°F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or till they’re nice and golden brown. Remove from the baking tray and place on a cooling rack.
white chocolate and cranberry bread
“White chocolate and sundried cranberry is my favourite mix of all time,” says Chef Bongo. “And it goes well with everything. The sweetness of the cranberries and the white chocolate make this bread so moist. It is one of those dishes you just can’t stop eating till it’s all gone.” Spreading on a little butter takes the experience to the next level.
2 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup warm milk
2 cups warm water
7 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup sundried cranberry
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
- In a mixing bowl, add the yeast, salt, sugar, warm milk and warm water. Cover and place in a warm spot 5 to 10 minutes until frothy.
- Turn the mixer to low speed and slowly add the flour. Once all the flour is in the bowl, let it mix for about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Pour the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead about two minutes. Add the cranberry and chocolate chips little by little until they’re evenly incorporated. Form the dough into a smooth ball. Place in an oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere warm for about 45 minutes to an hour, or till it doubles in size.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and place onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a sharp knife or dough cutter, cut the dough into 120 g pieces for rolls or 450 g pieces for baguettes. Shape and place on a baking tray and set aside in a warm place until almost doubled in size.
- Bake in a pre-heated oven at 375°F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or till they’re nice and golden brown. Remove from baking tray and place on a cooling rack.