Recipe: Meritage Cheddar Bread

I pulled out one of my Bread Machine cookbooks recently and was taken with the idea of creating a wine and cheese bread. I had apparently tried this recipe before, as evidenced by some ancient notes I’d written, but was bound and determined to try it again. Since I had some extra sharp cheddar in the fridge and a small amount of red wine from work, I decided it was worth the time to see how this experiment would come out.

I started with a bottle of Veritas’ Vintner’s Reserve red wine. I had helped work the recent Governor’s Cup Seminar and was given the remains of one of the medal winners. This wine is a meritage-like blend that I really enjoyed, so it was a good wine to use, in my opinion. I wanted to use something similar to the James River Cellars’ Meritage and this wine fit the bill for me. I also had some extra sharp cheddar cheese that was leftover from a recent event at the winery, so I really was killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

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As you can see by the photos across the top of the collage, I used my bread machine for the dough portion of this recipe. It made my life so much easier. Here are the directions for making this bread, using a machine such as the Zojirushi that I have.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup wine
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 1/2T margarine
1/2 t salt
3/4 t sugar
2 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 t yeast

Directions:
I put all the ingredients into the machine and allowed it to do it’s work. Once the dough was ready, I separated it into two sections and rolled each as if for French bread. I placed each length on my baking tray and allowed them to rise for 30-45 minutes. Once they had risen sufficiently, I sprayed them with water and baked them in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or so. I also turned the pan around mid-way through the baking process and sprayed the loaves with water again. As you can see in the photo, the loaves split, so next time I’ll make sure to slice them a few times to allow for steam to vent.

This experiment turned out fairly well, although I might just let the loaves bake in the machine next time to see how they differ. This would be a nice base for a simple garlic toast to accompany a dinner or used as an appetizer under a fresh tomato/basil topping. Try it and see how you’d like to use it… I’d love to hear your feedback!

Recipe: Bacon-wrapped Dates with Merlot

I did it again… had to come up with a tasty treat for a holiday party and decided to add wine to the mix.  Thankfully, it worked out well and tasted terrific!  This is one of those simple, quick, and easy recipes that begs to be repeated again and again.

I had just been to my best friend’s surprise birthday party and her sister (also a major foodie) was providing the food that inspired this creation.  While L’s version had no wine, hers did include a delicious type of cheese tucked neatly inside the dates… oh so decadent, but more than I could manage in the short amount of time I had to make my own rendition.

As sometimes happens when using The Force,  I ended up purchasing way too many dates and not enough bacon.  I probably could have cut the package of bacon into thirds instead of in half, as I did, but it was really yummy, as evidenced by the photBacon-wrapped Dateso I’ve included here.  I simply used a package of pitted dates from my local grocery store and wrapped each date with a half piece of bacon, then secured the bacon with a toothpick.  Once the dates were all wrapped, I drizzled them with maple syrup and then “thumbed” James River Cellars’ Merlot over top the entire recipe.  I probably could have mixed the syrup and wine together and brushed the mixture over those little morsels, but I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead.

Once all these sweet and salty treats were ready, I popped them into a 400 degree oven for about 10-15 minutes.  I could have used a 450 degree oven and had them done in 10, but I was working on some other things and the extra time worked to my advantage.  The final product was worthy of a New Year’s Eve party with dear friends… easy on the eyes and oh, so yummy.

I hope you’ll consider trying this recipe out on your own.  See if you come up with another way to use these ingredients to make something that covers both sweet and savory snack lovers.  Besides… isn’t most everything made better with bacon… and WINE?

Happy New Year to you and yours… May 2013 be a stellar year for one and all!