It is hot, hot, hot here at the Small Table, and maybe where you live, too! Are you having salad for dinner tonight? I admit that I don’t feel like eating much else these past few days, with our temps heading into the 100’s before the weekend. A good salad can be made great, however, with the right bread-addition. And so today I offer you one of my favorites: Rosemary-Mozzarella Quick Bread. It comes together in a snap with no yeast or rise-time, and is kept moist by olive oil, sour cream, and a relatively low baking-temperature. Break out the 6-inch cake pan!
I really had just one comfort food growing up: hot buttered toast. I think it started when I got the chicken pox and had to recover at my grandma’s house. My aunt came over several times during that week, always with homemade wheat bread. So I lay in my little bed of two armchairs pushed together and ate hot buttered toast. It was lovely! Mashed potatoes, on the other hand, didn’t earn a place in my comfort food arsenal until much later– I always thought they were kind of plain. Then one day I read that cream cheese makes a very good addition to mashed potatoes. I immediately knew this was the elevation the dish needed! The cream cheese makes them zingy, and brings out a tanginess that is worth the few minutes it will take to boil and mash them up.
Every time I make Luscious Garlic Cheese Bread, I remember a roommate from college. While I’m mixing the butter and cheese, I take a few reminiscing-minutes to think about my friend. She was smart and quirky and loyal and in-the-know. She slept with a giant box of candy under her bed, since her mother had never let her eat it growing up. I loved that little bit of harmless rebelliousness about her, and decided not to ask why she kept twenty or so cans of frozen juice concentrate in the freezer. She had lived a few years in Italy, and returned with all sorts of tasty food knowledge. She was a fantastic cook, opening my eyes to kitchen secrets we just didn’t know in Small Table Land. She taught me to add carrots to pasta sauce because of their natural sweetness, how to perfectly sear meat to serve with fresh pasta, and of course shared her ‘recipe’ for Luscious Garlic Cheese Bread.
That’s right–Brolls. This is a fantastic concept that makes it possible to enjoy a yeasted-type roll for dinner in just 30 minutes, start-to-finish. The name “brolls” is derived from the fact that we use a little baking powder to help the yeast along. This creates a soft, dense roll that is perfect with butter and jam. Do you have 10 minutes to spare? Then you have no NEED to KNEAD! Just use those 10 minutes to let the brolls rest on the counter before sliding them into the oven. Fifteen minutes later, you will have four small, perfect, golden accompaniments to any soup, salad, or entree.
Wondering what to eat today? This quick, delicious, adaptable biscuit is the answer you’ve been searching for. Well, at least it was the answer I was searching for this morning. The virtues of this biscuit are many, but let’s start with the fact that you don’t cut in any cold butter– an especial pet peeve of mine. Next, it is a drop biscuit, so no flour on your counter top, or dirty rolling pin to clean up. Last, you can change up the flavor in so many ways, depending on the meal and whatever you fancy today. I have the utmost respect for the perfect Southern buttermilk biscuit, which this is not. But sometimes I have even more respect for something lightning-quick and totally delicious, which this is.
Do you want your salad to sing? This is possibly my favorite vinaigrette (though there are about 5 others in the running– I’m sort of a vinaigrette-addict ever since I learned to make my own.) It is simple, quick, always fresh, and I know exactly what’s gone into it. Though white balsamic vinegar may sound exotic, I find it at my regular supermarket. In any case, it’s well worth the bit of extra looking that your eyeballs may have to do in order to find it on the shelf.