Apr 15, 2009

They Have Good Bread

I've mentioned this before...my mom and mother in law judge a restaurant's worth based on the quality of their bread. If "they have good bread," it will be a real treat to eat there. If the bread is not so good or, God forbid, non-existent, the outing will be doomed to failure...and why on Earth would we want to eat there anyway?

I only exaggerate a teeny bit.
Sure there are tons of jokes about Cajuns and their rice. But, people all over South Louisiana are also obsessed with bread. We are carb-o-holics. I never noticed this until I left and came back. One of my favorite local restaurants has fabulous plate lunches, especially on Sundays. They offer a list of main dishes and a list of sides. It's a build-your-own meal...pick one main item and three sides to go with it. I've seen more than one person order rice and gravy as their main dish and sides of rice dressing, yams (sweet potatoes), and the complimentary slice of bread.

It is not uncommon to be served a BBQ plate lunch with the following: BBQ pork steak, container of extra sauce (
Jack Miller's, please), baked beans, rice dressing, potato salad, and a slice of bread on top of the whole deal. Actually it would be absolutely weird to not have rice dressing or potato salad or bread together on a BBQ plate lunch.
My mother in law serves bread with just about every meal. She's partial to the French bread that the grocery store has fresh at 4 PM. Just a few days ago on Easter Sunday, she invited us over for dinner. I brought dessert and at the last minute (well, as last minute as you can get with homemade bread) decided to bring bread too. I don't know what made me do this...like I said she always serves bread. Why did I need to bring more? It turns out that she actually forgot to buy a French bread for the meal. When I walked in, she was relieved...yes, relieved to see bread since she had forgotten. I think we could have survived without bread, but she had been in crisis mode.

I don't serve bread with every meal...although if my son planned the menus around here I would have to (we call him "the bread man"). Really good bakery bread is a bit pricey to serve every night. Homemade bread, for people like me who don't have bread makers, isn't practical during the week.

My solution for a homemade bread fix during the week is the recipe below. No yeast involved, no rising time. Easily done after work for that night's meal.

This recipe for Butter Dips comes from one of my favorite cook books: Talk About Good. It's a cross between a breadstick (because of the shape) and a biscuit (because of the texture). I like that the recipe offers so many variations (found at the bottom of the recipe). Our favorite is a combo of variations: garlic, chives, and paprika on the top. My husband and son actually get giddy when they see me starting to make these.

This post is linked to
Let's Break Bread Together @ Wit, Wok and Wisdom

Butter Dips
from Talk About Good

1/3 cup butter
2 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
*see variations at end for additional ingredients

Heat oven to 400. Melt butter in oven in oblong pan, 13 x 9. Remove pan when butter is melted. Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, add milk. Stir slowly with fork until dough just clings together. Turn onto well-floured board. Roll over to coat with flour. Knead lightly about 10 times. Roll out 1/2 inch thick into rectangle, 12 x 8 inches. With floured knife or pizza cutter, cut dough in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 16 strips. Pick up cut strips in both hands and dip each strip in melted butter. Next, lay them close together in the same pan in which butter is melted. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot. Makes 32 sticks.

Variations: (1) Add 1/2 cup grated sharp cheese to dry ingredients. (2) Add 1 clove finely minced garlic to butter before melting. (3) Sprinkle paprika, celery seed or garlic salt over butter dips before baking. (4) Add 1/2 cup minced chives or parsley to flour mixture.

Nice and organized...just the way I like it.

In a 400 degree oven melt the butter in a 13 x 9 pan. Do this while you work on making the dough...speeds things up. I like to add garlic to the butter.

Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl. I like to use a small sieve for sifting.

Add the milk and stir until the dough just comes together...in other words, don't be a couillon and over-mix, no.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface. It's gonna be sticky, you haven't done anything wrong! Knead about 10 times. Then, roll into a 12 x 8 rectangle. Yes, I use a ruler. Why yes, I do have issues.

Cut in half lengthwise. I think a pizza cutter is the best tool for the job.

Now the game is to cut cross-wise 16 times. This will give you 32 sticks. I do it this way...cut in half cross-wise. Then cut each of those sections in half. And so on until I get 16 sticks per side (32 total) that are fairly equal in width.

Oh, my gosh, no! I don't just "eye ball it." Issues, baby, issues.
This is where the name comes from. Dip each little stick in the melted butter...both sides. Line them up in the same pan.

I like to sprinkle them with paprika.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. Serve right away. Most homemade bread sucks if you wait around too long. And why would you want to anyway?

1 comment:

  1. Marcia De Paz7/16/2009

    This look pretty easy to make, I might need to make some one of these days!!
    Thanks for sharing!!


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