Dijon Ham Loaf

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This is my family’s go-to meal. When we have family movie night, we make dijon ham loaf. When a family friend has surgery, we make dijon ham loaf. When I visit Seattle and we want comfort food, we make dijon ham loaf. So when I had to make bread for a class project (I’m writing a story about bread), clearly I decided to make dijon ham loaf!

To make this recipe (which makes one loaf, or about 5 servings), you’ll need:

4 cups of flour

2 T sugar

2 packages of active dry yeast

1 cup water

1/4 cup dijon mustard

2 T butter

1 1/2 cups chopped ham (I love to use the rosemary ham from Trader Joe’s!)

3 cups shredded swiss cheese

1 egg, beaten

Mix 3 cups of flour with the sugar and yeast. In a saucepan on the stove, heat water, butter, and dijon mustard to 125 degrees F. You can use a meat thermometer to gage the temperature, and make sure that it does get to exactly 125 degrees – which will probably happen in about 2 minutes over the heat. If the mixture is hotter than that, it will kill the yeast and the bread won’t rise. If it’s colder than 125 degrees, then the yeast won’t activate at all.

Once the mixture is 125 degrees, stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Mix in some of the reserved flour until the dough becomes soft. Dump it out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes.

Put flour on a baking sheet and roll the dough out until it’s about an inch thick and shaped like a giant rectangle. Sprinkle the ham and cheese in a line down the center of the dough (pile it up!) and then make cuts along the edges of the dough, leaving an uncut area in the middle for the ham and cheese. Cut the same amount of strips on each side of the loaf, each about an inch thick. Then bring the opposite strips together, twist them, and place the ends at angles across the top of the bread.

Once the entire loaf is braided, cover it with a cloth. Fill a large, shallow pan with boiling water and place the bread over the pan to help it rise for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, brush the loaf with beaten egg (this will help it become golden brown) and put it in the oven at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.

You’ll be able to tell when it’s done because the bread will sound hollow when you tap on it with your finger. Cut it into 2 inch thick slices, and serve with a green salad or some asparagus/ broccoli. You can also freeze a loaf if you’re cooking for yourself and don’t think you’ll eat it all in one sitting.

Enjoy!

Ham and Swiss Cheese Quiche

Growing up, my mom always made quiche with the leftover veggies, meats and cheeses in the fridge, so sometimes I crave that baked egg goodness. I’ve been working on eating everything in my fridge to save money before I grocery shop again – using up all of my leftovers, every last vegetable and all of the meats that I got for sandwiches and meant to eat for lunch (but didn’t). So yesterday morning I perused my fridge and realized that I had all of the ingredients that I needed to make a ham and swiss quiche. Done and done!

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I made my own pie crust, which takes a lot of extra effort. The recipe is here and I’ve included the steps that you need to follow if you want to make your own pie crust (I did because I didn’t want to go out and buy something else), but a frozen or pre-made pie crust will work just as well, and will save you a lot of time!

For the pie crust, you will need:

1 stick butter (1/2 cup), cut into cubes and frozen

1 1/4 c flour

1/2 t salt

1/2 t sugar

4 T ice water

I put the butter in the freezer, then headed to Starbucks for a few hours. When I came back, I constructed the dough. Keep in mind that this makes one pie crust. If you were making a fruit/ dessert pie, you would need two (a top and a bottom) so you would need to double this recipe!

Add the flour, salt and sugar to a blender and stir or pulse a few times to mix. Then add the butter and start pulsing until the mixture looks coarse. The butter should be in small pieces (pea sized) when you’re done. Slowly start adding water (it should be cold!) 1 T at a time until the dough starts to come together. Once it looks moistened (it won’t be in a ball yet), turn it out onto the counter and knead it briefly. Only knead it a few times, as the longer you knead it, the tougher it will become (and no one wants a tough pie crust!). Once you can fashion it into a little disk, it’s ready.

Package up the disk in a zip lock or plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour (or up to 48 hours). When you’re ready to make the quiche, just take the dough out of the fridge, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes, then roll it out with a rolling pin and a sprinkle of flour! You’ll want it to be pretty thin.

The first step to assembling the quiche is actually rolling out the pie dough and putting it in a pie pan, draping the dough slightly over the edges of the pan and pinching them. Prick the dough with a fork and then bake it in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

While the dough is baking, assemble the rest of your quiche! For my version, you will need:

1/2 onion, cut into small rings

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 small tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 handful spinach

1/2 cup ham, diced

1/2 swiss cheese, diced

1 whole egg, 5 egg yolks

a pinch of oregano

a pinch of thyme

salt and pepper to taste

parmesan cheese

Start by sautéing in the onions in olive oil. Once the onions are slightly brown and turning translucent, add the tomatoes and allow them to cook until they become mushy. Once the tomatoes were mushy, I smashed them with the back of a wooden spoon so that they turned into a kind of tomato sauce (I frequently make this to put on pasta, too). I then added oregano, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper to the mixture and let it cook over medium low heat for about 10 minutes before adding the spinach and letting it wilt. Once you’ve done that, turn off the heat and let the veggie mixture cool.

Once the pie crust came out of the oven, I turned the oven down to 375 F. I then added a layer of ham and cheese to the bottom of the pie and cracked eggs (one whole egg and 5 yolks) into a bowl and beat them. The eggs were added to the cooled veggies, and that mixture was then poured over the ham and cheese in the pie crust.

The entire quiche went into the oven for 30 minutes, and when it came out, I sprinkled grated parmesan cheese over the whole thing. To tell if it’s done, shake the pan. It shouldn’t jiggle – if it does, it means that the eggs are not cooked through and it needs more time!

This recipe was fabulous. Sean helped me make it after our long run, and he polished off half of the quiche for dinner. I ate a couple of pieces for dinner, and another piece for breakfast today. Less than 24 hours later, the entire pie is gone! The tomatoes are sweet and the swiss cheese has a bit of a bite, making it a perfect cleaning out the fridge dinner. It would also be a great, impressive thing to make for a brunch party, and keep in mind that you can add basically any ingredients to a quiche. Asparagus, mushrooms, bacon, chicken, cheddar cheese – the options are endless.

Enjoy 🙂

Easy Cheese Fondue

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Jenni’s family has a tradition of making fondue every Christmas Eve (cheese fondue before the candle light church service and meat fondue after), and since Hilary and Danielle had never tried cheese fondue, she decided to buy a fondue pot and make it for Danielle’s birthday last December. It was such a hit that we made it again for our friend Damon’s birthday last night… looks like it’s becoming a tradition!

To make this fondue, you’ll need a fondue pot. Our pot is from Amazon and only cost $30, but make sure you read the reviews before you buy it. KitchenAid makes some great ones, but there are brands that heat up too fast and will burn the cheese.

To make the Swiss Cheese Fondue above (it feeds 4 people for dinner; for an appetizer course, make 3/4 of this amount), you will need:

1/2 lb Ementhaler Swiss cheese, grated

1 lb Gruyere cheese, grated

3 T flour

1 t nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

1 1/4 c dry white wine

1 garlic clove, minced

Various ingredients for dipping

Grate all of the cheese in a bowl. Then put the flour, nutmeg and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in the bowl and mix it so that the cheese is covered in flour.

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In a saucepan, bring the wine and minced garlic to a simmer.

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Then slowly add handfuls of cheese to the wine mixture, stirring until it looks smooth. Once you’ve added all of the cheese, access the situation. If it looks too runny, add a sprinkle more flour. If it looks too thick, add a bit more white wine. Then transfer the mixture to your fondue pot and enjoy!

We like to dip crusty french bread (cut in chunks), apples, broccoli, carrots and peppers into the cheese. If you come up with any other dipping inspirations, let us know!

 

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