Fare Exchange: Beard's cheese bread recipe, finding gumbo filé

Fare Exchange: Beard's cheese bread recipe, finding gumbo filé

May 21st, 2014 by Jane Henegar in Life Entertainment


Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

• Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

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Jane Henegar

Jane Henegar

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Good morning, readers. Today's requests are all about cabbage and fish, and they pertain to the general category of fish tacos. Girl with a Red Kitchen has been reading about fish tacos.

"We try not to eat fried food at our house, so I want a crisp, grilled fish instead, but don't know how to do that or what kind of fish to use. I also know slaw is served on these tacos, but I don't know what kind - not mayonnaise, for sure. Lately when I slice cabbage on my own, it is too chunky and hard, but I don't like the prepackaged kind that is shredded very small. I also believe there is a cilantro-flavored addition to these tacos. And I would like more ideas like this."

MaryAnn McInturff uncovered the recipe for James Beard's cheese bread which, according to the recipe from legendary chef Beard, is "rather unusual, delicate and moist, with an intriguing cheese bouquet and flavor. It is ideal for sandwiches, it toasts extremely well, and it makes excellent crumbs when a cheese-flavored topping for certain dishes is called for. You may, of course, combine the crumbs with a little additional grated Parmesan cheese."

James Beard's Cheese Bread

1 package active dry yeast or 1 (½-ounce) cake compressed yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1-3/4 cups warm water (100 to 115 degrees, approximately)

5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon salt, or slightly more to taste

1/2 stick (1/4 cup) softened butter

1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or slightly more to taste

3/4 cup shredded Gruyère or Swiss Emmenthaler cheese

Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in 1/4 cup of the warm water and allow to proof. In a large bowl, mix 5 cups of flour and the salt. Make a well in the center and add the remaining 1 1/2 cups warm water, the butter, the Tabasco and the yeast mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon or spatula or with your floured hands until the dough is well amalgamated.

Turn out on a heavily floured board (use about ½ cup flour) and knead for 10 to 12 minutes or until the dough is smooth, elastic, rather satiny in texture and all the flour on the board is absorbed; add flour if you need it. Place the dough in a buttered or oiled bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours or slightly more.

Punch down the dough, turn it out on a lightly floured board and knead in the cheeses. When thoroughly blended, cut the dough in half and let rest for 10 minutes, then roll out each half into a rectangle about 11-by-6 inches and let rest for 2 or 3 minutes more. Roll each rectangle up, pinching the edges as you do so, and tucking in the ends so that the loaf measures about 4 1/2-by-7 1/2-inches. Place the dough in 2 well-buttered 8-by-4-by-2-inch tins; cover and let rise in a warm spot until the bread has reached the top of the tin or slightly higher, or has more or less doubled in size.

Bake on the center of the middle rack in a preheated 375-degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until the loaves sound hollow when removed from the tins and rapped with the knuckles on both top and bottom. Bake directly on the oven rack, without the tins, for a few minutes to firm the crust. Cool the bread on racks before slicing.

Yield: 2 loaves


• Instead of the butter, use 1/3 cup peanut oil or olive oil. Also use oil for the baking tins.

• Use fresh Parmesan or Romano only - a little over a cup - or use a mixture of the two.

• Use shredded sharp cheddar instead of the Gruyere cheese.

• Bake as 1 loaf in a 10-by-4 1/2-by-3-inch pan, which will make a thicker, more concentrated loaf and will take slightly longer to bake.

Next problem solved was where to purchase gumbo filé. Barbara Mann finds the gumbo filé, or ground sassafras, at Penzey's spices. So does Teresa Patten, giving their web address as penzeys.com. Patten buys all her spices from Penzey's because "they are very fresh and keep well."

Another shopping question was solved in great detail by an anonymous reader. He or she found rice wine vinegar "at Asian Foods and Gifts, 8639 Hixson Pike, 423-870-1067. There is also an Asian Market at 3920 Ringgold Road in East Ridge, phone 423-624-1809, and one near Bi-Lo on Shallowford and Lee Highway called Sokdee, phone 423-698-3897."

Kitchen Must-Haves

This one is from Valerie Carrell. "I am still using my salad spinner received over a decade ago for a wedding present. Salads of all kinds are gently cleaned and dried in this salad spinner. Mine came from Williams-Sonoma, but I believe they are available almost anywhere."

Just a Dash

Girl with a Red Kitchen found the perfect, easy, after-work food. "Friends were dropping by and I wanted to visit with them and also offer them enough food that it might be a meal. So I got a greens and strawberry salad from 212 Market, muffaletta sandwiches from Mom's Italian Restaurant on Market Street and turkey subs from Subway. I cut the sandwiches in smaller pieces and put them on a platter covered with plastic wrap, refrigerating them before my guests arrived. I used 212 Market's vinaigrette, but any favorite recipe would do."

And, tacked on to this easy meal idea from Girl with a Red Kitchen: What would be the simplest dessert for that meal? If simply ice cream, what is a way to dress up that ice cream for an easy special occasion?

And so today's column ends.