ON COOKING: Tasty, cheesy addition to accompany the bird

Langley Advance Times columnist Chef Dez offers a suggestion to augment Christmas dinner

People are always amazed when I say I make fresh bread, hot out of the oven, for Christmas dinner.

“How do you find the time?” they always ask.

My secret is this recipe for Peppered Cheese Bread.

Although it is not a yeast bread (it is a quick bread with baking powder), it is still savory, delicious, and perfect with any holiday meal.

To make it even faster to prepare at mealtime, I prepare ahead the two parts (dry and wet) and keep them separate and covered in the refrigerator.

Then at the time of baking, I prepare the pans, combine the two parts, and bake.

One of the great conveniences of doing this recipe to serve with a turkey, is that the oven will be preheated and empty while the turkey rests.

In case you didn’t know already, large pieces of meat should rest for a period of time once out of the oven to help keep the juices inside.

A turkey should rest (covered under foil) for at least 30 minutes.

The resting time, and the time it takes you to get the stuffing out of the bird and do the carving, will give you more than enough opportunity to bake this bread and rest it.

Soft canned Madagascar green peppercorns are optional, but well worth it if you can find them.

They’re usually reserved for sale at specialty markets.

Also, make sure you prepare your pan properly and thoroughly in step 1, otherwise you will find it difficult to get the bread out of the pan when done.

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RELATED: Banana bread with a bit of pizzazz

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Peppered Cheese Bread

Makes one 9-inch round loaf

“A quick bread with tons of cheese and pepper flavours! For best results make sure you use old cheddar and fresh cracked black pepper.”

2 cups flour (plus more for dusting)

2 tbsp sugar

4 tsp baking powder

1 ½ (one and one half) tsp salt

1 ½ (one and one half) tsp freshly cracked pepper

1 tbsp soft green Madagascar peppercorns, drained, optional

2 cups grated old cheddar cheese

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup milk

1 tbsp melted butter

More pepper for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare a nine-inch pie plate with baking spray and then dust it with flour.

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Toss in the green peppercorns and 1.5 cups of the grated cheese (while reserving the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese for step 5) to thoroughly coat with the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, milk, and melted butter.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture. Stir until just combined and spread the mixture into the prepared pie plate.

Top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and more freshly cracked pepper.

Bake for approximately 30 to 35 minutes until the bread is solid and the cheese has browned slightly on top.

Let cool in the pie plate for at least 10 minutes before trying to remove it, and then let cool thoroughly on a cooling rack.

– Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to dez@chefdez.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4

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