Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Beer Bread with Salami and Asiago

In late May, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a dear friend from my undergraduate years at Notre Dame. Her wedding was picture-perfect: beautiful bride, handsome groom, loving family and friends, delicious food, and amazing music. Paul and I enjoyed ourselves very much especially because Matthew was off on a play-date for the entire day, leaving us alone with our absurdly chill baby. It was lovely to have some time to ourselves to reconnect and celebrate in the joy of our friend's wedding (I love marriage!).

A few random pictures of our children, the outward sign of the love Paul and I share in our marriage. Beautiful smiles all around!

During the time between the ceremony and the reception, we chose to visit a Cleveland landmark that I have longed to see for quite some time: the West Side Market. Ensconced in a beautiful, historic building, the West Side Market houses an eclectic variety of vendors selling everything from locally grown fruits and vegetables, fresh-cut flowers, homemade jams, artisan breads, handmade sausages, fresh-made pastas, butchered meats, a myriad of different cheeses, decadent desserts, and made-to-order ethnic foods. My mind was spinning at the huge variety of items to peruse, sample, and lust over. Paul and I sampled some smoked salmon from one of the seafood counters, artisan rye bread from a European bread vendor, several varieties of flavored popcorn, German sausage, and Austrian mustard. We could have attacked more but had to restrain ourselves since we were going to enjoy dinner at the reception in just a few short hours.

The best item we sampled, far and away, was some beer bread from one of the bread vendors. They had it out for sampling and we enjoyed it so much that we ended up buying a loaf. It was a basic beer bread recipe lightly flavored with garlic and onion and stuffed with salami and asiago cheese. It was amazing. Now, Paul and I make beer bread quite often during the winter months as an accompaniment to chili, but ours is a plain, slightly sweet variety. I have never had a savory beer bread and this version knocked me off my feet. One of the reasons we bought a loaf was so we could try to replicate it at home.

And this is as close as we could get! Using the same basic beer bread recipe as before, we reduced the sugar and add garlic, onion, salami, cheese, and a healthy dose of pepper. The main difference we could detect from the West Side Market's bread was in the type of salami they used. Obviously it would be really difficult to get a close match since there are so many different varieties of salami available. However, this was gloriously close to what we tasted in Cleveland, especially after some resting time in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld together. I most definitely recommend not trying it fresh out of the oven, but rather letting it cool to room temperature before wrapping it tight and letting it hang out in the fridge for 1-2 days. This recipe is definitely a keeper!

Beer Bread with Salami and Asiago
adapted from Cooking Light

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
13.5 oz all-purpose flour (about 3 cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup Asiago cheese, shredded
1 (12 oz) bottle of beer (we used Sierra Nevada Kellerweis)
3 oz finely chopped salami
2 tablespoons melted butter, divided

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in pepper and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife (I always weigh my flour). Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in the center of the mixture. Add onion mixture, cheese, and beer to flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

Spoon batter into a lightly buttered 9x5" loaf pan. Drizzle 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake for 35 minutes then drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon butter over batter. Bake an additional 25 minutes or until the bread is deep golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into the center comes out clean. Begin checking after 15 minutes. Mine was done much sooner! Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack before removing from pan. Cool completely on wire rack. Wrap in plastic and store in the fridge. We enjoyed this best after the flavors had time to meld in the fridge. Enjoy!

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