1 1/2 c shredded Asiago cheese (divided for each loaf)
2 Tbsp yellow corn meal
For the Topping:
1/4 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup Asiago, shredded
2 tsp. roasted garlic
Mix topping ingredients and set aside at room temp.
Combine sugar, salt, & shortening in a large mixing bowl.
Add Sour dough starter, and stir until sugar dissolves.
Gradually add flour, stirring until dough leaves sides of bowl.
Turn dough onto heavily floured surface: Knead 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a greased bowl. Turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place 85 degrees F. free from drafts, at least 1 hour or until doubled in size. Dough will be sticky.
Punch down dough & allow to rest for 5 minutes.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface: Divide dough in half. Butter a loaf pan, sprinkle with corn meal. Set aside till needed.
Roll each half into a rectangle. Add the shredded cheese and roll into dough with rolling pin, or press by hand into bread dough. Roll up jelly roll fashion.
Place dough seam side down in loaf pans; turn edges under.
Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non stick cooking spray, and let rise 25 minutes or until doubled in size.
Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20 minutes, remove from oven and spread the tops with butter-cheese mixture. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes or until loaves sound hallow when tapped. If top gets too brown, tent loosely with foil.
Ever wonder why they call headcheese “cheese”, when there are no dairy products involved in the process?
Okay, first things first, while one of my favorite foods, I will be the first to admit that head-cheese is a victim of terrible branding, perhaps the worst in the food world, right up there with “bird’s nest soup” and “lung pie.”
What it isn’t:
Headcheese is not “cheese” in any form.
Headcheese is not brains, eyeballs, or any of the “yucky stuff.” 😉
Head cheese is not Spam (and vice-versa.)
Headcheese is traditionally make from the meat pulled from a whole pig’s head, simmered in a savory, seasoned stock, with a foot or two (for the collagen in the tendons) until falling off the bone.
Cheek meat, tongue, and various other tasty bits from the nooks and crannies of the skull (but never the brain) are used to make up the tureen of meat, then suspended in the collagen-heavy cooking stock, which turns into a solid gelatin when the whole thing is chilled.
This gelatin is called “aspic”.
Okay, so back to the point…why the heck is it called head “cheese?”
This requires a bit of a history lesson. In the 1700’s when this process (tureens in aspic) became popular, the word “cheese” wasn’t used just in reference to diary items, but instead referred to a process of forming ingredients into a loaf, pressing it under weight, and chilling until solid.
This was known as “cheesing.”
Two of the most popular cheesed foods were were “cheesed curds” (what we call now cheese) and tureens of meat in aspic, especially those with the tender and delicious meat from the faces and cheeks of pigs and calves. This was referred to as “cheesed head”, as it was made by boiling the picking off the meat of the cheeks and neck, pressing them in the pan with aspic, and chilling until solid (aka “cheesing.”)
Which eventually morphed into the term we use today… headcheese.
Typically it’s sliced for cold sandwiches, and served on rye bread with mustard and thinly sliced sweet onions…as least at my house! 😉
Chef’s Note: If for some reason that grosses you out (and it shouldn’t, it’s basically the same thing they do with hotdogs, only using higher quality parts) you can some comfort in the fact that the stuff you see labeled “Headcheese” in the supermarket deli counter, is actually just chopped pork shoulder in aspic, NOT meat from the head, as the process for making the real thing is considered too expensive and labor-intensive to be worth it. (Welcome to the tagline of American food…)
Your best bet for authentic headcheese is to visit our local Russian market, which is also a great place to pick up some artisanal rye bread.
Hopefully I’ve eased some suspicions and some contempt prior to investigation, and (even more) hopefully, I’ve encouraged a few folks to get out of their comfort zone and try something new.
Who knows, a “cheesed-head” sandwich might be your new favorite thing!
Not enough time to make a hot, healthy, and delicious dinner after work?
To rushed to make it ahead, in the morning?
Using a slow-cooker with a removable insert, mix up your ingredients the night before, separate the meat and veggies in two zip-bags, place in the insert and top with the lid, and put it in the fridge. In the morning, just pop the insert back into the slow cooker, cover with lid, and set it for an 8-hour cook! Chilling the insert gives you a little lee-way in the cooking time. As most folks work an 8-hour shift, this allows for a bit of commute time without over-cooking the meal.
Tip #1:Take the insert out of the fridge, as soon as you get up, and let it rest on the counter-top until right before you leave.
Tip #2:If you’re recipe calls for a six-hour cook time, leave the insert in the fridge until right before you leave, and cut any vegetables slightly larger than the recipe calls for.
Most recipes that call for a 4-hr cook time on HIGH, turn out just as tasty at 8-hrs on LOW.
If you don’t own a slow-cooker, you can do the same thing with a heavy, lidded casserole dish or dutch oven, following the same steps and cooking at 200F in the oven. See more in my last post, “Converting Crock-pot Recipes for the Oven.“
A hot dinner for the family, and the house will smell wonderful when you walk in the door…you might even be able to put your feet up for a few minutes!
Here are some of my favorite slow cooker dinner recipes…
Just got a very nice email from Ashley L., who is a little concerned with the slow-cooker beef recipe this week. To quote, “HELP! I don’t have a crock-pot, and I can’t afford to go out and buy one…am I going to ruin this roast is I cook it in the over? Can I use a cast-iron dutch cooker, instead?”
Great news…you can, absolutely, cook your crock-pot recipes in the oven, using a dutch oven, cassoulet pan, or even a cast-iron skillet and some heavy foil*.
I don’t typically use very many canned foods, in fact I can be kind of an ass on the subject, but there are exceptions to every rule.
One of those exception is my families annual week-long vacation on the Oregon Coast.
Crabbing, clamming, fishing, beach-combing, sand-castles…there’s WAY too much on the agenda to spend all day in the kitchen! So…we make exceptions, and sometimes we get some very happy surprises.
This is one of them!
Beach Camp Chili
1lb boneless pork steak (or any cheap, meaty cut of pork)
4 strips thick bacon, chopped
2 Tbs chili powder, divided
2 Tbs cumin powder, divided
1 Tbs sea salt
1 Tbs coarse black pepper.
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs bacon fat
1lb ground beef (80/20)
28oz Centro fine diced tomatoes
28oz Bush’s baked beans
28oz red kidney beans, drained
1/2 white onion, fine dice
Crema (Mexican sour cream)
Mix salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder.
Bring pork steak to room temp, pat dry, and rub generously on both sides with spice mix. Set aside.
Mirepoix: In a heavy-bottom pot or dutch oven, over medium heat:
Sauté the bacon, celery, onions, and carrots in 1 Tbs (each of oil and butter), cook until softened and beginning to caramelize. Remove with a slotted spoon, and set aside.
Increase heat and sear the pork steak until well browned on both sides. Remove from pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, add mire poix, and pork. Top with tomatoes (with juice), cover and cook, covered, at a very low simmer for 4-6 hours.
Remove pork, chop coarse, and add back to the pot.
Fry the ground beef with garlic and the remaining spice blend, until cooked through. Do not drain. Add ground beef to pot, along with baked beans, and drained kidney beans. Increase heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced, and the chili starts to thicken.
Remove from heat and let rest 1 hour, uncovered.
Stir and serve with toppings and cornbread!
PS – Be sure to subscribe to this blog, and get many more healthy, delicious, budget-friendly tips, techniques, and recipes!
A healthy breakfast & lunch are vital for attention and learning, and help keep kids focused and alert all day. I’ve taught hundreds of kids to plan and cook for themselves, and the vast majority of them, given the opportunity, will choose healthy, nutritious foods if they taste good, are offered in variety, and if they feel like they are allowed to choose for themselves.
Kids get bored with the same old, same old…and a variety of foods helps ensure more balanced nutrition.
Wraps are sturdier and less messy to eat. Who wants to eat a smooshed sandwich?
Quesadillas are quick and easy to make. Ham & Cheese, Pizza, Turkey and cheddar
Vary hot and cold lunches. A thermos of their favorite soup or stew is a nice break from cold lunch, especially in winter.
A hot sandwich, wrapped in foil, will stay warm in a thermos, all day!
Pita Pockets are easy to eat, less messy, and because pita it denser than sandwich bread, you can assemble them the night before, and they won’t get soggy.
Tip: Small rewards for bringing home rinsed dishes and thermos’ are totally worth it!
Leftovers of favorite dinners make GREAT lunches
Slightly under-cook veggies, so they don’t turn to mush when re-heated.
If you struggle to get them to eat it at home, don’t bother packing it for lunch.
Let you kid’s help make the meal. Kid’s LOVE to bring and brag, and are twice as likely to eat something they helped make.
No kid worth their My Little Pony back-pack doesn’t like cold pizza!
Kids love stuff they can assemble!
Deli meat: slice it into cracker-size squares, and put it right back in the bag!
Cheese slices: Ditto
Crackers, whole wheat pita pockets, small flour tortillas
Raw veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc.)
A whole rotisserie chicken can make a week’s worth of protein for one hungry teen-ager or a couple of littles! Chicken legs, chicken with rice (use your rice-cooker), chicken salad wraps, sliced chicken-breast pitas…the list is endless!
Check out the bulk food section, it’s not just rice and beans anymore. Buying staple lunch items in bulk can save a ton of money over the same items in pretty bags.
Want to add a little more variety, without buying the whole produce section? Check out my post, “Shopping the Salad Bar!” over on our outreach page!
Make a master list of healthy lunch ingredients, and let your kids take turns choosing items from each food group the next time you go shopping. It works, it really does.
Save yourself some time!
Does it really need to be sliced on a perfect bias? Does every sandwich need to be cut into cute shapes and adorned with smiley faces? We’re not Martha Stewart, people, and nobody’s giving out Michelin Stars for the contents of our kid’s lunch bags. 😉
Fresh fruits and veggies begin to lose their flavor and texture as soon as they’re cut. My daughter is just as happy gnawing on a 4 inch hunk of cucumber, or popping whole grape tomatoes. Slice you veggies into manageable pieces in advance, and store in a large, sealed container of cold water for the week.
Spend those precious minutes assembling fresh, quality foods that your kids will eat. Flavor will trump fancy every time!
Chef or Cob salads are quick and easy to assemble. Send with a small reuseable container of their favorite dressing, and a baggie of croutons.
What to Skip
Bananas do NOT travel well, and nobody want to eat a brown, mushy banana. Save the bananas for breakfast! Always wrap the stems in foil.
Prepackaged “lunchables”. Sure they’re convenient, but you’re paying double, sometimes triple, for something you can easily assemble (with fresh fruit and veggies!) yourself.
Probably the biggest rip-off in home-packed lunches are juice boxes.
Non-recyclable containers filled with a few swallow of sugar-laden “fruit” juice, and a grossly inflated price…ugh! Invest in a few reusable drink bottles, and fill them with pure, no-sugar-added juices at a fraction of the cost.
This goes for just about any “individual serving size” items (chips, cookies, fruits & veggies, trail-mix, etc.,)
All of these can be purchased in family-size portions, and added to a sandwich baggie for pennies on the dollar.
Make it a team effort!
Make a (supervised) lunch “assembly line” in the morning. Kids can pick and choose what they want from a selection of meats, cheeses, fruits and veggies. All YOU need to do is pop a treat in the bag at the end of the line!
Stop over-paying for greasy burgers, spongy pizza, and chemical-laden processed “convenience” foods, and give your kids a leg up on learning with fresh, healthy, money-saving lunches.
They deserve it (and so do you!)
PS – Be sure to subscribe to my blog, and get many more healthy, delicious, budget-friendly tips, techniques, and recipes!