Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cheddar-Jalapeño Beer Bread


You know what I simultaneously love and dislike about cooking? It's a never ending learning process. There is no finite end, and even if there were, someone would come along and invent a new technique or recipe and you'd be back at square one.

In some ways, it levels the playing field for all of us - whether classically trained or self taught.

One of the world's most renowned chefs, Julia Child, {who would have recently celebrated her 100th birthday}, was well-known for her fearlessness and candor about delving into the world of food. She was a pretty spunky broad who wasn't afraid to "get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken." {How could you not love her?}

As I was reading a list of famous Julia quotes last week, I couldn't help but chuckle {and nod enthusiastically} at her advice and counsel. I could completely relate to many of the pitfalls and blunders she addressed in her witty way.

Some days you'd think I have never stepped foot in a kitchen. I make silly mistakes and I have to laugh at myself or else I'd cry... especially when said mistake ends in wasted ingredients, a wrecked kitchen, or an inedible product. And believe me, there have been countless occasions where this has been the case.

Inspired to list of some of the "oopsies" that I tend to make every week from time to time, I've compiled some important tips in hopes that they will both entertain you, and keep you from your own kitchen disasters.

Things I've Learned in the Kitchen {Through Trial & Error} :

1. For heaven's sake... use a big enough pot. Or bowl. Or pan. Because somehow I am constantly spilling things everywhere due to insufficient space in whatever vessel I'm using. I must've missed the day we discussed volume in school.

2. As delicious as whatever you are cooking looks or smells, give it a second to cool down before your put it in you mouth. It's a wonder I have any skin left on the roof of my mouth.

3. Make sure you have all the ingredients you need before you begin a recipe. There's nothing worse than getting to the "Add 2 eggs" step and finding that you do not, in fact, have any eggs in the fridge. {Especially when your husband left an empty egg carton to throw you off.}

4. On a similar note, read recipes all the way through before you begin them. It can be a little embarrassing to discover that Step 5 directs you to marinate the pork tenderloin... for 24 hours... and your company will be arriving in 3. Attention to detail, folks.

5. If a recipe tells you that you need non-stick cooking spray... or that you need to stir constantly... or that there will be violent boiling and the possibility of bubbling over - believe it. Odds are it will not be any different in your kitchen.

6. Powdered sugar, cornstarch, and dry quinoa are notorious "jumpers" in my kitchen. {Meaning, they like to jump out of whatever I am attempting to contain them in and onto my clothing or floor.} Proceed with caution.

7. Drinking wine {or any alcoholic beverage, for that matter} while cooking: Double edged sword. ;)


8. Put contacts in, do your eye makeup, or any activity that requires your hands being near your eyes BEFORE you come in contact with jalapenos. You might think sufficient washing will remove the residue... It will not.

9. Measuring when baking = not a suggestion. Unless your hands have unit markings & your arms are a kitchen scale.

10. Have fun in the kitchen. No recipe is worth a meltdown; no lopsided cake worthy of your tears. Cooking is an adventure, there will be mistakes. {Even when you are pretty good at it!} But if you can't help it and your deflated souffle or burnt caramel or lumpy gravy simply breaks your heart... wine or chocolate {or both!} will usually do the trick of soothing your culinary ego. :)


This recipe for Cheddar-Jalapeño Beer Bread that I borrowed from She Makes & Bakes is easy enough for the kitchen novice, but certainly doesn't taste that way. The result is a tender, flavorful bread with a crunchy golden crust and a little burst of jalapeño taste throughout. {NOTE: I was sorely mistaken for not heeding tip #8 after making this... even after washing my hands 5 times. Holy fire in your eyeball, Batman. Be careful.}

In short, friends, cook at your own risk...but definitely, cook!



Cheddar-Jalapeno Beer Bread
Adapted from She Makes & Bakes 

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 jalapeño, seeded, deveined, and diced small
1 {12 oz} bottle of beer {I used Red Stripe Light because that's what we had in the fridge}
Approximately 6 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Add cheese and jalapeño, and stir until combined.

Add beer and about 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Mix until just incorporated. {Do not overmix. Batter will be thick.}

Pour 2 tablespoon of melted butter into the bottom of the loaf pan, and brush all around pan to coat {Don't forget the sides}. Spoon bread batter into pan and distribute evenly. Brush the top with 1 tablespoon of butter.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer or knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean {there may be some cheese on it, but we're looking for no raw batter}, and the top is golden brown.

Brush the top of the loaf with remaining tablespoon of butter, and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes before removing from loaf pan and slicing. 

Serve warm or toast up slices to reheat.

3 comments:

Marie said...

I can so relate! I find that when I cook in a hurry that's when I tend to mess things up. You live and learn :-) Great post.

Bread looks scrumptious!

Chineka said...

The looks like a great recipe. I love the pictures and how you did a "lessons learned" list. It's always appreciated when others are helpful in the baking world. 8-)

The Kitchen Prep said...

Thanks, Marie! I totally agree with what you said... as they say, "Haste makes waste." :)

Chineka - I'm glad I could share some of my tips and hopefully keep you from avoiding some of those mishaps! ;)

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